The largest far left parliamentary party in Greece is the Communist Party - the KKE. Tensions run high on the left between the KKE and the anarchists. Both groups believe the other is police infiltrated and working contrary to the aims of the left. Speaking to some of the workers for the KKE, they express regret at the divisions in the left, but blame the anarchists. They insist that they should be working together to overthrow capitalism in Greece but state that they fear that they will attack them. They insist that approaches to the anarchist left have fallen on barren ground, partly because of the variety of anarchist groupings and the impossibility of making substantive contact with a view to co-ordination. They also dismiss the anarchist left as having any potential to effect lasting change – that their tactics are catch a mood, but that they have no alternative to capitalism which can be realistically implemented, leaving a dangerous vacuum in civil society.
The most notorious clash between the KKE and the anarchists occurred last October, where anarchists and communists fought each other in pitched battles in front of the parliament. The KKE has been charged with defending the parliament in the face of a potential storming by anarchist elements, which seems to be the most widely accepted interpretation of the events on the international left. Talking to some of the KKE, they put a very different interpretation on events: that they had called a rally in front of the parliament, as the anarchists started a violent attack, comrades moved in to protect the bulk of the assembled crowd from the missiles being thrown which then descended into open warfare. Anarchists accuse the KKE of being infiltrated by police informers which encouraged them to protect the parliament, while the KKE accuse anarchists of the same infiltration which encouraged them to attack their members. It is likely that both may be the case. Greek capital has a vested interest in a dividing the left, particularly given its strength and it would not be beyond the forces of the state to infiltrate both camps to sow division between them.
The KKE has a strong workerist bias, demonstrated by their withdrawal from the MayDay march in favour with a Mayday rally in support of the striking steelworkers in Aspropyrgos. which has now been continuing for over six months. This strike has created controversy within the left. In February, the fascist Golden Dawn, turned up and were apparently welcomed to address the workers by the leader of the strike, who has been a candidate for the KKE. With primarily indigenous Greek males who are employed at the factory, this is fertile territory for the fascists to attempt to inflame racial tensions and much criticism has been made of those actions.
The KKE has a strong position on immigration. Recognising that it is a major issue within Greek society, their proposals include
- Establishing and human dignity and public open spaces temporary shelters for immigrants – not refugees camps. These will be provided medical care, free meals and accommodation, interpretation and legal assistance. To give special attention from government agencies for juvenile refugees and immigrants, mothers and children victims of human trafficking ring.
- To give temporary asylum or humanitarian status to refugees and those from countries imperialist occupation or civil.
- Provide travel documents for those who want to go to another state – an EU member, with disobedience to the Schengen and Dublin II Regulation
- To legalize migrants living and working in Greece and have full labor, social and democratic rights.
- To stop new immigrant crackdowns at the border and the assignment by the border guard in the mechanisms of the EU
- To stop Greece’s participation in imperialist missions in foreign countries.
This is a radical position in a country where anti-immigration feeling is running high, yet a necessary one. Immigration cannot simply be ignored by the left, it comes up in almost every conversation that you have about the problems that Greek people face, with many insisting that tighter borders are the way to solve the problem: that Greece is too poor to offer charity, and to weak to address the crime and disease that migrants bring.
In terms of co-ordination, the KKE is remarkably organised. Visually, the KKE is stunning – the banner drop from the Acropolis a symbol of the demand of the left for the people to take back their destiny was beyond audacious in its scale. Their rallies are a sight to behold. Just down from museum on 2nd May where the extra-parliamentary left had gathered the day before, flag waving communists approached from all direction, appearing in groups of several hundred until tens of thousands were gathered to hear their leader, Aleka Papariga, address the crowd. Despite a fairly strong youth presence, the crowd tended to be older than those who had gathered at the MayDay march and the speech was peppered with chants and music. The music appeared to be that favoured by a very traditional left. Despite coming from a Communist background, I recognised none of the songs played and even the Internationale did not feature, in contrast with the Mayday rally which tended to feature popular radical songs from the likes of the Manic Street Preachers and Chumbawumba, giving it a more modern feeling.
The KKE are expected to do well in the forthcoming elections on Sunday, increasing their share of the vote from approximately 7.5% in 2009 to between 8-11%, yet there are suggestions that they are failing to make the kind of gains that they should be given the dire situation which exists in Greece, and increasingly people are seeing them as part of the much hated establishment, despite their rhetoric. They have many challenges on their hands, not least of which is resisting the attempts to divide the Greek anti-capitalist left