Thanos Andritsos and Kostas Fourikos members of the Greek anti-capitalist Left party ‘Antarsya’, explain how the radical left in Greece is building an alternative to austerity from the grassroots


Story Transcript

JAISAL NOOR, PRODUCER, TRNN: This is second part of our discussion with members of Antarsya who support leaving the Euro as a way to address Greeks’ economic problems. Joining Thanos Andritsos in Part 2 is Kostas Fourikos, who started out by discussing Antarsya’s relationship with Syriza, the the party of Prime Minister Alexis Tispras. KOSTAS FOURIKOS, MEMBER OF GREEK ANTICAPITALIST LEFT PARTY ANTARSYA: Yes. We think–and that was a, our difference with Syriza even before the referendum, before the election over the past years. That exiting the Eurozone is a key element, not the only one of course, but a key element of an alternative program to fight the crisis, to fight the recession, and to fight the poverty in Greece. Why is that? Because there are a lot of critical elements in the structure of the European Union and the structure of Eurozone that do not allow Greece to have a policy, economical policy that we help poor people and the labor class. That was proven, unfortunately, [this date]. It was proven that it’s not only the balance, the specific balance of power that exists now in the Eurozone and now in the European Union, but it’s structural, and think that the Eurozone only tries to support only the interests of big corporations and Europe, Germany, banks, and not the interests of people. So our alternative [inaud.] remains exiting Eurozone. Not Grexit, because as a term Grexit is very terrifying term, it was used by Schauble, Merkel, and the powerful leadership of the European Union. So we say exiting the Eurozone could be a part of the alternative program. Also with canceling the debt, stopping the debt, nationalize the banks, nationalize certain big sectors of the economy. Raise the taxes for the wealthy people in Greece that were having much profits in the past time. And even having [inaud.] in Argentina. For example, corporations that they are shutting down and the labor–the people that are their employers there, they could take the–. NOOR: The capital. Capital flight, yeah. FOURIKOS: Yes. They could take their corporation and they would use it and–. NOOR: The workers would take it over. FOURIKOS: Yes. They would take it over. NOOR: Yeah. Okay. ANDRITSOS: Can I, can I add something. This is–there is a big discussion, I mean, okay. Maybe we are not specialist on the exact figures and things like that. But there is this big discussion whether this program of exiting Eurozone, exiting European Union, whatever, is something that it’s, I don’t know, impossible or even crazy, et cetera. What we are thinking is that it’s not that it is easy. But we have to, I mean, to examine what, what we mean by difficult. In my perspective it is difficult politically because we have to mobilize the people. Because you have to fight with European and Greek oligarchy. Because you have to find ways in solving problems that may occur. But it’s not difficulty, technically. And this is something different. It’s not that we try to find water in the desert. It’s that we want to reorganize our economy in the favor of people in trying to somehow–I mean, create some kind of a social security for all the people that they are suffering right now. So there is a different discussion about how we will organize people, how we will somehow find ways in order to change, I mean, the level of exploitation that right now in Greece is, it’s extremely high. How we can find ways in order to, I mean, reproduce–to produce again things that have stopped producing due to the European agreement, that we have somehow again find ways to cultivate things that we have stopped in the last years. But it’s not difficult in a way that there will, people in the–will die in the streets, I mean, without having anything to eat. The problem will be how the people and the labor movement, and the people in the neighborhoods can organize in order to implement these kind of measures. NOOR: And there’s been meetings. In Athens there’s been meetings over the past few days about how to achieve that, how to self-organize within the government and without, and outside of the government as well. VARIKOS: Yes. Now I think that it is a crucial moment. That more and more people are trying to understand and try to do what they can, try to think what we can do about the, I think that there was no plan B with this procedure of the last month. NOOR: Which exposed Tsipras’ weakness in the negotiation. ANDRITSOS: Yes. Yes, I mean that we think that exiting Eurozone and canceling the debt, and all these measures that I described before, that could be plan A. But it is crazy for the government and for some–for a government that wants to be left-wing government not to have a plan B and to have this conclusion. This conclusion is like left-wing–there is no alternative to, you know. So now yes, there are meetings, there are organizations from different parts of the left that are trying to coordinate and trying to cooperate and organize what could be called like the movement of a five of July, 5th of July. Because you know, 5th of July was the day of the big referendum, a major part of the Greek society instead of all this fear and terror of voting no, they voted for the no. And now the no became a yes. FOURIKOS: So they are–I want to say that, to add to what Thanos said, that there are two arguments that say first that we need to support the government, even though the government had to sign this [agreekment], as they said, the agreement. We have to support it because we have to support the existence of a left-wing government. But what we have with this agreement, it’s neither a left-wing policy nor a government. This government cannot govern with this agreement. If someone could read the agreement he could see that all the, almost all then the [loans] that the government voted in the parliament must be reexamined or maybe canceled. But all the loans that are going to be–. NOOR: They have to be pre-approved. FOURIKOS: They have to be pre-approved by the institutions, as they say. So this is a very difficult thing also. They are saying to us that then, what would be like exiting the Eurozone? Maybe a big recession time. But how–. NOOR: Well, they’re saying there might be food shortages, rationing, people really suffering, right. FOURIKOS: But how can we think only about the [elisation] and the difficulty from a choice like this, when we have guaranteed recession for the next five, six, or ten years with this agreement. This is madness. And it’s, it’s sad that maybe some people from the left because of this argument to support the left government and–are trying to put arguments like this in the public discussion. I think it’s, it’s not good for the left in Greece, and internationally. Because also, we can see now these days that the conservatives in Europe are trying to use this conclusion of the negotiations in their own countries in order to say to their people that there is no alternative. For example, [rahoy], two days after the agreement, he said to a conference that–. NOOR: Who is this? FOURIKOS: [Rahoy], the prime minister of Spain. He said–he’s a right-wing politician, conservative. And he said to a conference to his people, look at Greece. Look at what happened in Greece. Look what happened with a left-wing government that tried to negotiate in a more hard way. They ended up with a worse agreement than the previous government, which was right-wing. Can you see what’s happening here? ANDRITSOS: Can I add something. In this, in this discussion about the food—the food shortages and et cetera, okay. There have to be a specific–there has to be a specific research on what Greece is producing and what is consump–and consuming, and things like that. But from what I have seen and what most of the people that are try somehow to, to, to think of an alternative, have already mentioned is that first, Greece have the ability–has the ability to feed its people. I mean, right now. The percentages of food sufficiency are, I think that are more than 100 percent. The electricity, for example, it’s more than capable to provide to, to, to all the country. In, in many other important aspects Greece is not that–I mean, in such a difficult position to somehow, I don’t know, be able to, to, to cope with it. We are not saying that it won’t–there won’t be problems. But what is more important is that the reason why Greece is now in a difficult position to even feed its own people, to even provide [inaud.] basic goods, is because European Union and Eurozone agreements have sabotaged Greek production and Greek agriculture. So many people that are saying that okay, we weren’t ready now, we should prepare for the next years and after that we may be–it may be easier for a Euro, for a Eurozone exit. But it’s not going to happen because every day the situation is going worse. If you want to somehow start a different road and create the–I mean, the ability, the capability of the Greek society to live differently, then you cannot do it after you have sell all your infrastructure, after you have–I don’t know, destroyed all your agriculture and all your productive abilities. NOOR: So I wanted to ask you, so you’ve been advancing these ideas for some–for years now. For more than six years you’ve been–your party, you’ve had this party that’s representing these ideas. Talk about–has there been  change in popular support for your organization’s–and the amount of people that have also support–that also want to know more or support this alternative, especially in the last few weeks? You talk about that? FOURIKOS: To start with I think that we have to see that in Greece what’s–a lot of things happened in the last five years. All the left organizations gained too much power through the last five years because of the memorandum and the, this awful economic, political situation. Antarsya has support many schools and workplaces and social areas. But it didn’t gain as much support as it could, because Syriza managed to express all these political project of hope. So most of the people turned to the left, but turned to Syriza. Also, a big mistake that was made by Syriza was that Syriza said again and again and again that we should not leave the Eurozone at all costs. At some point. And that also–. NOOR: Even after the referendum. Tsipras said the referendum wasn’t for the Grexit. FOURIKOS: Yes. But also I’m trying to, to, to describe what was happening all these last five years with a lot of strides, with a lot of struggle, and a lot of discussion, public discussion. And a conflict, ideological conflict, also inside the left. Syriza tried to say that we should stay in the Eurozone and we could find a, a fair agreement inside the Eurozone. I mean, that’s not a story about the last five months. It’s also the story of how Syriza gained its power, how Syriza was elected, how it became government, et cetera. Now, years, there are again a lot of people that try to understand that there has to be an alternative. So yes, we’ve seen these in the last few days that a lot of people also voted from Syriza, members of Syriza. They’re trying to find an alternative, a different solution. They’re not exactly [turn] to Antarsya, but [also] to a [sense] that people need and try to find a new left, now. We’re talking about now. A new left front, a new left organization that would not be afraid, it won’t be afraid to express this opinion and this program alternative, anti-capitalist program.

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Jaisal Noor

General Assignment Reporter

Jaisal is a host, producer, and reporter for TRNN. With his expertise in education policy and systemic inequity, he focuses on Baltimore, Maryland. He mainly grew up in the Baltimore area and studied modern history at the University of Maryland, College Park. Before joining TRNN, he contributed print, radio, and TV reports to Free Speech Radio NewsDemocracy Now! and The Indypendent.

Jaisal's mother has taught in the Baltimore City Public School system for the past 25 years.