- Category: International
- Created on Wednesday, 26 September 2012 11:09
- Written by eric ribellarsi
This summer, I spoke with a young Albanian communist who is a member of the Communist Organization of Greece (KOE). The interview starts with her own story, then moves to the notoriously anti-immigrant group Golden Dawn and her thoughts on revolutionary strategy in the 21st century.
“How do we meet the basic needs of the people in a way that leads to our final goal of communism.”
“The people must come to administer the society themselves, rather than having a group of people administer it for them.
“KOE has a view of emancipation through participation. The people must know that their participation in the movements is a part of them coming to administer the society.…
“I want to say that my views on Golden Dawn have been mainly shaped by my orientation as a communist in KOE. I don’t fight them in the struggle as Eva the immigrant, but as Eva, the member of KOE.
“Golden Dawn is a social problem. Golden Dawn came to prominence through the absence of the Left. The Left has offered no reasonable answer or program to the people in relationship to immigration. At this point, there is an immigration question related to huge numbers of migrants who have come, but cannot be assimilated by theGreek society.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Eric Ribellarsi: Can you tell me about how it was that you came to Greece?
Eva Z.: I was born in Albania in 1989. I came to Greece when I was ten years old. We came here by accident. My father’s friend made us a visa to come to Greece, and found a job that paid more than we could make in Albania.
My father couldn’t afford for me and my sister to go to a university in Albania, so we came here. Immigration now has fallen substantially, and many people are now going back to Albania.
It has been very difficult because of the racism here, and when I came here I could not speak Greek. We did not have friends. My parents would work all the time, and my sister and I focused on going to a language school. There was a particular racism against immigrants during this time, and there were almost no other immigrants in my school. Racism kept me from having many relationships.
When I joined the Communist Organization of Greece (KOE), I was nineteen. My sister joined when she was fifteen. My cousin joined when she was fifteen too.
During the December 2008 rebellion, I participated in many occupations, and I decided that I would join KOE. KOE spoke of a unity of left, and tried to overcome divisions of groups working independently. No other group worked in this way. At that time, I wasn’t very familiar with the ideologies of Stalin, Mao, and Trotsky which divided the movement, and I didn’t care.
In the time since then, KOE has been much more advanced than the rest of the left. Its positions have been adopted by the other organizations months and even years after KOE developed them.
The rest of the left and the system were constantly attacking KOE even though we are a relatively small organization. We are not an organization that is interested empty revolutionary slogans, but rather sound revolutionary practice.
Eric Ribellarsi: So what about today? How is the situation now?
Eva Z: At this point, I’m a student in Greece. The difficulties I’m facing are very similar to the difficulties of the other Greek students. My parents don’t have the same rights that the Greeks have. And like most Greeks, they don’t have a job.
We face the difficulty of racism. The children of immigrants won’t say they are immigrants because of the racism. And we have to deal with being forced to use different ID cards. We don’t tell people we are immigrants. It is the only way to have ties with the community here.
Eric Ribellarsi: So, many people internationally have heard a great deal about the Nazi political party called Golden Dawn. One evening here in Greece, we ourselves saw a Golden Dawn attack on people in a bus.
Could you share your thought on this party?
Eva Z.: Golden Dawn is a Neo-Nazi party that mainly organizes in the middle schools and high schools where the left has not been present, something the Golden Dawn has taken advantage of.
High school students face the lack of ability to get a job, social problems at home, and many other problems where the left is absent. Golden Dawn takes advantage of these problems by saying that immigrants are the source of all the social-ills.
My appearance allows me to hide from groups like Golden Dawn.
I want to say that my views on Golden Dawn have been mainly shaped by my orientation as a communist in KOE, more than being an immigrant. I don’t fight them in the struggle as Eva the immigrant, but as Eva, the member of KOE.
Golden Dawn is a social problem. Golden Dawn came to prominence through the absence of the Left. The Left has offered no reasonable answer or program to the people in relationship to immigration. At this point, there is an immigration question related to huge numbers of migrants who have come, but cannot be assimilated by Greek society.
The previous Greek Left relied on empty slogans like “immigrants are our brother and sisters” which are of course true, but which lack political substance and don’t get at the actual essence of the contradiction.
More recently, the Left has adopted positions on opposing the Dublin II treaty, which demands that the Greek government not give travel papers to the refugees who come here.
Golden Dawn grew by being the only political force that would raise questions of national sovereignty and patriotism, which the Left refuses to acknowledge. When the Left does this, it yields territory to Golden Dawn.
Many people voted for Golden Dawn as a punishment to the parties that passed the memorandum. People on the Left did not vote for Golden Dawn. The voters of Golden Dawn are people on the right who are against the memorandum who do not want the rise of the Left.
A lot of people actually believed that if they entered the parliament, they would beat and attack the two main political parties of Greece.
I believed that Golden Dawn’s electoral percentage would fall in these elections, but it did not. KOE has not yet been able to have a conversation about this.
Golden Dawn is over-emphasized. Let me point out that the Italian fascist right consistently gets more votes than the Golden Dawn, and Golden Dawn is much smaller than parties like SYRIZA or even the other far-right parties. Half of the riot police may have voted for Golden Dawn, but really, the riot police beat us with or without the Golden Dawn.
The riot police cultivate an ideology of beating elderly people and students. They are a separate unit of the police that has voluntary recruitment, with a very difficult brainwashing training. The riot police are brainwashed fanatics.
For many years, Golden Dawn has been carrying out actions against immigrants in buses. Now after the elections, they believe that their attacks are legalized.
These attacks are the result of the Left not providing a program and solution to the questions of economy and immigration in Greece. The most important thing for dealing with the Golden Dawn attacks is developing the organization of the people.
Eric Ribellarsi: I’d like to ask you a side question… Could you share with me your thoughts on Albania, and the history of the communist movement in that country?
Eva Z: There are many differences.
While I did not live in Albania under Enver Hoxha, I am familiar with the right-wing propaganda after the collapse of that regime. The bourgeoisie used anti-Enver Hoxha propaganda to destroy the Left and all communist organization. But the truth is that quality of life of everyone was actually much better with Enver Hoxha. But there were also real problems of democracy and free speech in that society.
Very small countries like Albania and Greece have problems of dependence. It is very difficult to have socialism in such a society. The international environment has a major impact on these societies. The balance of powers is now very different, and socialism will have to look very different.
The main question is: How do we meet the basic needs of the people in a way that leads to our final goal of communism. The people must come to administer the society themselves, rather than having a group of people administer it for them.
KOE has a view of emancipation through participation. The people must know that their participation in the movements is a part of them coming to administer the society.
We must study history, and learn what went wrong in China and the Soviet Union, socially and economically. We must take lessons from these attempts, both good and bad. We have to recognize the conditions are very different, that revolution in 21st century will be very different, and socialism in the 21st century will look very different.
The international situation for a socialist country will look very different, and KOE will become a new kind of organization before that can happen. It will have to play a very different role than the organizations of the past. Will it become a party? We still don’t know.
For example, we are not explicitly against the form of the socialist state of the 20th century, but we also think this kind of form is very unlikely in a society like Greece. The form of socialism for Greece we still do not know. These days, time is very compressed, and things are changing very quickly.
It’s my personal opinion that the production relations in Greece are very different from societies like Russia and China. In the first world countries, the superstructure plays a much higher role, even in a peripheral first world country like Greece. The middle class is becoming impoverished. Their ideology and mentality is shaped by this, and to create socialism we must first reconstruct the culture of the people.
The Cultural Revolution is a big inspiration of the relationship between the communists and the masses. It exposes how the communist movement can overcome the rightist turns of communist parties. Some say the solution is gulags. Some say the solution is to duck our heads to counter-revolution.
Under historical circumstances, these choices were pursued by the communist movement. And we don’t want to judge them out of their historical contexts.
The Cultural Revolution also points to the importance of the mass line, “from the masses, to the masses.” In the squares, we used the symbol of the helicopter. The left thought it was politically immature, and that instead we should put forward ideology.
In the Chinese revolution, they had to cooperate with the GMD. They had to form united fronts. KKE in Greece thinks that fronts should be formed on the basis of one self. ANTARSYA thinks only the anti-capitalists should unite. We think very differently.