Eyewitness from austerity in Greece

Saturday, August 9, 2014

SYRIZA member and journalist Afrodity Giannakis spoke in Melbourne on July 22 on Greek socialists' struggle to clear a new path out of the wilderness of austerity.

SYRIZA is Greece's largest left-wing party. Giannakis described Greece as "a society stripped of democratic illusions, where workers are compelled to labour for months on the promise of future wages while shipowners evade taxes through tailored loopholes.

"In Greece, I got a glimpse of the future of Australia. Even in supposedly privileged Western countries, everything is being taken back: humane living conditions, employment, welfare ... The specifics may differ from country to country, but the end result is the same."

Giannakis has been a member of SYRIZA since its formation in 2004. It began as a coalition of left-wing groups and has risen to challenge the increasingly discredited incumbent party, PASOK, achieving up to 27% of the popular vote in national elections.

The party has coalesced many in the working class on the left. However, it faces the challenge of those who have instead been driven rightward by the crisis, towards fascist party Golden Dawn.

Golden Dawn is characterised by blunt xenophobia and enthusiasm for violence. Giannakis it has strengthened its influence by infiltrating the police and army, but has also lost credibility due to its acts of violence and thinly veiled affection for the Nazis.

"Fascism is called to the system's rescue when bourgeois democracy has reached its limits and can no longer serve corporate objectives," said Giannakis. "But there's been a very strong movement against the Golden Dawn, and I think it's been successful to a very large extent."

Though SYRIZA's effectiveness is hampered by several factors, Giannakis said, it has the power to confront the crisis, especially if it can join forces with other influential anti-capitalist groups, such as the Communist Party of Greece.

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From GLW issue 1020