United Popular Front
By Peter Koutroubis at Jun 19, 2012
All this is taking place amidst a global economic crisis that is unique in terms of its breadth, depth and destructive consequences: a crisis which, when it was transformed into a debt crisis, hit Greece as weak link in the chain, along with a number of other peripheral countries of the EU. The suffering that our people is experiencing, the loss of sovereignty, the dissolution and destruction, are the products of an international mechanism of exploitation spearheaded by an entirely parasitical fiscal system at the European and global level.
Greek working people, pensioners, professionals, farmers, small and medium business people, are not just being required to pay off a debt that has been so designed that the more you pay the larger it gets. They are also being called upon to accept the official mortgaging and selling off of the country by the EU and the IMF. This is what the government and the official political system is promising the Greek people. They try to hide the fact that the key prerequisite for the “support packages” is not just the greater “sacrifices” that the popular strata are expected to accept. What is really at stake is the country’s sovereignty. Under the tutelage of the IMF and the EU, Greek working people face the prospect not just of losing their jobs, pensions and rights but also losing their country.
The very survival of the country is now being drawn into question openly by the controllers of the Eurozone and the markets. The country will have to accept being carved up, at least economically, into regions, relinquishing its economic rights over the islands, ceding sovereignty of the Aegean. The entire country has been turned into a site for a real estate auction, to be sold off, acre by acre. Greece has already become a state on probation, divided into semi-autonomous regions readily susceptible to privatization and annexation by neighbouring states, statelets and protectorates, depending on the requirements of the masters of the Eurozone and the USA.
The Unified Popular Front (UPF) has been established to organize resistance and reinforce the popular struggle against the occupation regime. Τhe turning point for its establishment was the magnificent resistance mounted by the people in gatherings lasting more than a month in the public squares of virtually all the cities and towns of Greece, first and foremost in Syntagma Square in Athens. These spontaneous protracted demonstrations by a very large proportion of the Greek people transformed the persistent protest struggle that had been waged primarily by workers, with mobilizations and strikes throughout the preceding year, into a struggle for the overturn of the existing power structures and the dominant political system as such. From the moment that a great proportion of the Greek people had come down into the streets with unprecedented determination and persistence not only against individual policies and measures but against the official regime, in whatever sense one might understand this term, then the question that was posed in practice from the outset was what the next step should be. How the people could win the confrontation it had initiated with the power structures. The UPF came into existence to answer this question. Its struggle is above all one of liberation, both national and social. Its objective is to reclaim the country from the encroaching tyranny, indeed from execution: to defend the interests of the great popular majority: workers, farmers, small and medium business people, and above all the younger generation, so that it can have a future in this country.
The UPF is determined to make a decisive contribution to uniting the people, above and beyond party lines and ideological (or other) divisions. The people and the country are in grave danger. It is only by creating a great social and political front of the entire people to save the country that we will be able to escape from the oppressive one-way-street of destruction, plunder and over-indebtedness.
A united and determined people has no need to fear anything or anybody. It cannot be stopped by any threat, any punishment by the markets or by the powerful. When the people has decided to unite and claim its rights, there is no power that can stop it, no adversity that it cannot withstand.
This popular unity must be, and can be, constructed around the following central demands that make possible a total overturn of the regime of occupation, expropriation and vassalage, because they function
as a point of departure for democratic rebirth of the country on the basis of popular interests.
The central demands may be summarized as follows:
1. Non-recognition of the public debt, on the basis of international law, which permits a sovereign state to refuse to pay all illegal, usurious and unauthorized debt that leads a people and a country to bankruptcy. This means immediate – here and now - cessation of payment to lenders, to check the hemorrhaging of wealth that has been imposed on the country and the people by the international usurers and speculators.
This is the only way the country can be saved from disaster, and workers and their incomes, their jobs, their pensions and their rights safeguarded. It is the only way that there can be any prospect for young people, for farmers, professionals, small and medium businesses. It is the only way the country can avoid the bankruptcy and destruction that is already being organized by the government, the EU and the IMF.
Non-recognition of debt means that we do not recognize any demand that would enable those lending the country money to expropriate, to confiscate, to plunder. It means that we stop paying money on loans that we have already paid off twice and three times. It means that we unilaterally cancel all the debts that are the product of fraud and speculation at the expense of the country and its people. It means that we refuse, finally, to give our life blood for payments on loans dating from the 19th century, but which the markets and our great “partners” have forced us to pay until the present day. It means quite simply that we stop paying ransom money to international and local usurers.
The Greek people must proceed with non-recognition of the debt not because we want to hurt anybody or “steal” money that has been lent to us. We have to do it because there is no other way to overturn the debtor/creditor relationship in the interest of the country and to rescue ourselves from the threat of official bankruptcy. We have to do it because there is no other way to get back on our feet, to reclaim our country from the markets and the money-grabbers, to secure its survival, to emancipate ourselves finally from the corrupt system that governs it. The people will not refuse to discuss demands for repayment of loans that have been contracted in good faith and have verifiably contributed to the development of the country. Discussion will be on the basis of mutual benefit. This will apply particularly in the case of the money of small depositors and money in insurance funds, which in any case does not account for more than 15% of today’s public debt. The basic presumption will always be that no such demand will impede the progress of the country, mortgaging the country or reducing it to hostage status. If someone has to lose, it is certainly not going to be the country or the people of Greece.
2. There must be a dismantling here and now of the entire edifice of agreements, obligations, interventions and measures that have been made and taken since the time of the first Memorandum, so that the country can re-establish legal order internally and reclaim from the IMF, the EU and the European Central Bank the sovereignty ceded by the pitiful traitors comprising the entirety of the country’s economic and political establishment, and above all – of course – the government. We must, in everything the popular movement says and does, emphasize our warning to local and foreign power brokers, investors and market speculators: that whatever they have seized and are going to seize in the near future will be taken back by the people through its struggle. Investment in the disintegration and expropriation of this country will cost them dear.
3. Reframing of Greece’s relations with the EU, starting with exit from the Eurozone and adoption of a national currency that will express the dynamic of a new economic course for the country in the interests of the people. Disaster does not await us if we leave the euro. It awaits us if we remain at the mercy of the euro. Only if we gain control of the currency and the economy will the country cease to be subject to the pressures, the blackmail, the attacks, of international speculators: a dispensable by-product of movements of the market.
Return to the national currency is not a panacea. It is rather a necessary starting point if we are to embark on a new course. To achieve the necessary redistribution of wealth in favour of the economically weaker strata, but also immediate decisive strengthening of popular incomes, which is the only way to restart the economy and begin to come out of recession.
To proceed with nationalization of the major banks, starting with the Bank of Greece, for the sake of securing control of the economy, reorienting credit policy, striking at financial quackery, regulating movements of capital. This is the only way of defending the savings of ordinary people, which are being whittled away by today’s banking system of usurers and speculators.
For the state to emerge as the basic lever of the country’s economic and social development, starting with nationalization of the old public corporations, infrastructures and services that have been privatized. A state that must cease to be the fief of the parasitical economic and political oligarchy that is today governing the country. It is only in this way that the private initiative of small and medium business can be freed from domination by trusts, cartels, local and foreign market monopolies.
To secure the necessary investments for productive reconstruction of the country, which will not be based on speculative investors, whether foreign or local, or on state-supported entrepreneurs and monopolies, but on the needs and on the income of working people, on the dynamic and the initiative of the country’s living productive forces.
4. The first act of atonement to Greek society for the lawlessness of those in government will be when the natural and legal persons (parties and business networks) implicated throughout the preceding period in the dissipation of public monies and public property are put in the dock. This is not a proposal for erecting gallows in Constitution Square, or for filling the prisons with good-for-nothing traitors. It is for doing something better: immediate confiscation on behalf of the public of all the property of such natural and legal persons as have been involved in this misappropriation of public funds and in the high treason that has been committed against the people and against the public through imposition of this regime of occupation and expropriation. As for the culprits: they can be assigned socially beneficial work, cleaning and tending public places, maintaining infrastructures, etc. The first concern of the movement must therefore be… not to round them up and expel them, but to apprehend them before they escape, to show them how the people in practice punish high treason and how they themselves can be of some use to society as a whole, perhaps for the first time in their lives.
5. The country cannot be saved with the people kept “on the back burner”, with all-party coalition governments or corporatized non-party governments. The way out of the crisis is through more, not less, democracy, and democracy that goes deeper. It requires a populace in the centre of the political stage, not a population of passive spectators of events, and victims. It requires a new form of political power with the people as its focus, not a corrupt system of governmental absolutism. It requires that democracy be achieved on an authentic basis of popular sovereignty and national independence. This can be accomplished through thoroughgoing institutional change, the refounding of the political system as a whole, through election of a Constituent Assembly with broadened authentic representation of the people itself, for the sole purpose of drawing up and voting a new democratic Constitution. Only in this way will it be possible for the people to become master in its own house, to establish a system of government based on popular representation, with a binding mandate, continuous control from below, the power of recall and limited terms of office. Only in this way will it be possible to be rid of the restrictions that come with vassal status, so that the country and the people can be open at long last to all the currents of international life, to take advantage of potentials and opportunities through the seeking out of new bases of support, new contacts and relationships, with all the peoples of Europe and the world, without coerced alliances, impositions, monopolistic dependence.
The struggle with which working people, farmers, small and medium businesses, professionals, young people, are now summoned to become engaged is not just a question of personal survival. Nobody can escape just by looking after himself, doing his job, for as long as he still has one. Nobody can be saved today unless he fights to save the whole country. There is no other choice. We no longer have the luxury of being able to say “first let’s see what is going to happen, and then we’ll talk about it”. Either the working people and all of the population will take matters into their own hands, embarking on actions to save the country, or we condemn ourselves - and even moreso generations to come - to what could be the darkest period in modern Greek history.
The Greek people are not alone in this struggle. At their side are other peoples of the southern part of the Eurozone, in the EU and internationally who are being hit by equivalent policies of banditry. The duty of dispensing with the regime of debt bondage, starting with our own country, is something the Greek people owes not only to itself but to all the peoples who find themselves in the power of the same international band of thieves. Each step towards liberation in Greece, each timely blow against the occupation regime will inspire other struggling peoples, heightening morale and strengthening resolve. The national and social liberation of Greece will trigger a generalized spring of the peoples in Europe, which no species of reaction will be able to hold back.
The Unified Popular Front is pledged to contribute with all the power at its disposal to every authentic popular movement against today’s regime, irrespective of where it originates and who is leading it. It undertakes to play an active and decisive role in every movement of resistance and to help it in its task of awakening and organizing the population, in every neighbourhood and every workplace, with the aim of achieving national and social liberation. The UPF is open to every democratic, patriotic activist who wants to struggle for the same purpose, without asking for any “certificate of social conscience”, genuflections before self-designated authorities, self-appointed leaders, dignitaries and/or concealed or overt party mechanisms. By its nature the UPF is a transitional socio-political alliance of broad popular forces whose central objective is to achieve its basic objectives and demands. In its ranks there are no dividing lines of party or ideological origins between its members, nor is there any recognition of organized groupings or blocs. This corresponds to the unity that must be constructed in the ranks of the people itself against the common enemy. As an alliance it is temporary because with the achievement of its central objectives the UPF will pass irrevocably into history.