Interview with Dimitris Kazakis, leader of the United Popular Front (E.PA.M).
We discuss Tsipras, Varoufakis, the local oligarchy, how to save the economy, plans for political mobilization in the summer, Podemos, Ukraine, global capitalism and why he worked for a bank in the UK if he claims to be a socialist.
The interview was conducted on April 1, 2015.
Parts of the interview were published on TruthOut, while the audio of the interview is available here.
Q. Do you think that the current government, as it is going now, do they have some kind of Plan B in mind or do you think they are they just trying their best?
A. I don’t think they even have a Plan A. In the first week after the elections they tried some general idea, like for example, the European Convention on debt issues. The European Union partner, especially Merkel and Berlin, rejected it so they [the Greek government] abandoned the whole idea.
On the second level they tried to negotiate some kind of elimination of debt, nobody wanted it, and since they did not want to go into a confrontation with the lenders, they lost ground.
Since 20th of Februay -that’s the commitment they have with the Eurogroup, everybody calls it the agreement of 20th Feberuary- the Greek government abided by the rules of the memorandum, of the loan agreement. So I don’t expect anything from this government.
Q. The agreement of February 20th had already many contradictions in it. It was obvious from the beginning that Greece could not satisfy both the Troika, also known as the Institutions, and the people. Still, the fact that Tsipras brought the issue of reparations from Germany for the World War II occupation seemed to suggest that he is trying to stir a national mobilization against the plan.
A. If you see the declarations, you will find out that according to Tsipras and his government, the German reparations is not a legal issue between Germany and Greece but is an ethnical issue. Do you understand what I am saying?
Merkel said “ok, so we don’t have a legal issue but we have an ethical issue.” “So let’s negotiate some money you can have in order to push forward the friendship between our people. That’s all. And the way Tsipras is pushing the German reparations issue is to close it.
Q. But why would he bring up the question of reparations in the first place? Is Prime Minister Tsipras not seeking effect some kind of confrontation?
A. Because of the people. The Greek people expected much, maybe too much, from the new government. And they have to put up a theater performance for the Greek people. “We are negotiating, we are fighting for the Greek interest” and things like that. So that the average Greek citizen can say, “Let’s wait. Let’s wait for 3 or 4 months to see what is going on with the government” because the government and the media says they should wait for 3 or 4 months because then people will see that there will be a confrontation in July, in mid summer. I don’t think there will be a confrontation. In the mid summer we will see the signing of a new agreement. Mr. Tsipras called it a contract for the development of Greece and that is even worse than a loan agreement.
A contract is something that you sign as a private entity. Not as a state. So when your prime minister says that I need a contract, I’m fighting for a new contract, it seems to me that we are definitely going for the worse.
Q. But the Greek government is already trying to implement the Eurogroup agreement by leaving room for maneuver for implementing some social policies and for taking unilateral actions, taking care of humanitarian issues. And this is already meeting a lot of resistance from the Eurogroup…
A. No. I don’t think that the two local measures we had, they just passed through the parliament, that is the humanitarian crisis and the measures to uphold the economy are against the lenders of the Eurogroup. For example they say they are going to use about 200 million Euros for the humanitarian crisis. Former Greek Prime Minister Mr . Samaras already gave 450 million Euros for the poor for political reasons. So what? We are talking about small amounts in the big picture. Actually they had some special provisions inside the laws that say that the public property of the Greek state will be privatized. On top of that they passed a regulation that real estates of the Greek state will pass to the Troika. So it’s even worse than Mr. Samaras and Venizelos [Evangelos Venizelos of Pasok who was the deputy finance minister and later deputy prime minister following the bail-out in 2011, JT].
The government of Samaras and Venizelos had a commitment [to the Eurogroup] to do privatize but they had no political capital to perform such an action. So Left [Syriza] came in order to complete all the commitments we had from the last memorandum and when everything will be in order , according to the specifications of the last memorandum they will go on with a new contract with the Eurogroup.
Q. But Mr. Tsipras has been complaining that the Eurogroup is holding him to higher standards, not even to the standards of the new Eurogroup agreement but to standards of the memoranda of understanding from the time of Samaras…
A. Yes. He says that. But give me an example of the propositions that the Greek Government gave to the Eurogroup that are outside of the commitments that were already signed and sealed back in April 2014 when we had the last memorandum. Everything that they are discussing with the Eurogroup right now is part and parcel of the last Eurogroup memorandum. So, if you look at the recent package of measures that the Greek government gave to the Eurogroup. you will see that there is nothing there that is against the old memorandum. What they trying to do is to convince the people that by doing that, by fulfilling the commitments of the last policy, they are changing policy. That is , sorry, for the expression but that is B.S.
Q. But even according to that logic, the Europgroup is not happy enough with what the Greek Government is doing. They want more privatizations, more neoliberal reforms, so wouldn’t that put Syriza in a confrontation point because right now they are not really getting anywhere in the negotiations with the Eurogroup?
A. No. What Merkel, Berlin and Brussels are doing, what they are trying to do, is to make an example out of the Greek people. To teach them that “you cannot fight us.” So, they are willing to make even a credit event against Greece with the banks or make the situation in such a way that the government cannot pay pensions or wages. Then the average Greek citizen will be frightened and say to the Government “OK, back off. Don’t do anything.” That’s the whole situation right now. That’s why you see that the government is backing off in every step of the way. You will see Merkel, Mr Draghi or Mr. Dijsselbloem, expecting more. “No, you have to take another step”. Why? They signed for everything. Why can’t they say Ok?
If you’ve read the letter of Mr Tsipras to Merkel back in the 15th of March, what is he saying is actually that I gave everything. Whatever you asked, I gave it. So why don’t you give me the money? And that’s logical. Well, actually, the reason they don’t give the money, is in order to bring down the whole thing , even the feelings of the Greek people.
Q. But isn’t there a chance that precisely because the Institutions are taking on such a hardline and such an irrational position that the government, even though they may not have the courage for pragmatic reasons, may be forced to pull out to or to take a different stand unexpectedly? and they are not showing it yet?
A. Well, yes, it could be.
But I don’t believe with that particular composition of the government this is possible. I don’t believe in Mr Vroufakis, or Mr Tsakalotos [the Economics Spokesperson of Greece, JT), or Mr. Dragasakis [Greek Deputy Prime Minister] and the rest of the gang. Because they are a gang. They are not politically motivated based on the Greek people’s interests or the country’s interest. You know, they are very happy to be in charge, to be named ministers, to have power, and that’s all.
Q. But Tsipras would be the one to make the decision to continue with the memorandum in the summer or the Central Committee of Syriza so that would be the problem for them…
A. No, actually the actual Prime Minister is Mr. Dragasakis. Mr Tsipras is just the public face. You know, to go around and show he is a very smart guy, he’s good looking, everything that an American communicator would need to pass his message, as a communicator to the masses. That’s all. I know because I know them, each and everyone of them, for more than two decades. I know their fabric, I know that they don’t have the guts to go against such huge interests like the loan sharks, the oligarchy, the local oligarchy and of course against Berlin and Brussels.
Q. Regarding the local oligarchy they would have to after them for taxtation reasons if they want to gain revenue , they would have to go against the local oligarchy….
A. Well actually they cannot do that because we have a free movement of capital. If I was an oligarch I would put all my property and money in offshore accounts. How can you tax offshore accounts? Inside the European Union, you cannot.
Q. I’m reading Finance Minister Varoufakis’ book now, The Global Minotaur. He makes some very good analyses on the failure of capitalism. Does Varoufakis think he can convince the Germans of his logic? Because according to his logic, what he’s doing now by trying to stay in the Euro doesn’t make any sense. So how do you explain that contradiction?
A. Well, yes, I’ve learned about Mr. Varoufakis here in Syntagma, back in summer 2011, he has a position that didn’t alter since then. The main position is that you can forget about Greece, because either you can have a European solution, or no solution. So whatever you say or whatever you analyze, when it comes to choosing which way to go, actually he will chose, because he believes it, the European way. And there is no way inside the Eurozone, to find a solution, especially for Greece. Even for the rest of the countries [the Southern countries hit by austerity, JT], but especially for Greece.
Q. So Varoufakis believes he can convince the European Union?
A. Yes, somehow. I don’t know how…
Q. But by now he should see it’s not working
A. Yes, I know. But if you believe there is no solution outside world government, or globalized capital or globalized market places, how you can fight for your country?
Q. Well, you could get finances through Russia or China or even the US…
A. Well, yes. We have more than 324 billion Euro public debt and we are paying each year around 30 billion in monetization of that debt. Who is going to give us the money? Nobody. Why would they?
For example, if you get rid of the debt and say goodbye to Euro, you can go to Russia or China and say: can you supplement our currency deposits for our exterior balance? They will probably say: “Ok, le’ts discuss. I can give you the money, what can you give me?” But inside the Eurozone, Russia and China know that they cannot provide directly to the government itself. They must negotiate through Berlin or Brussels.
Q. You mentioned a few people who are firmly in favor of staying in the European Union but there are also others in Syriza, such as Energy minister Lafazanis or even Defense Minister Kammenos of the Independent Greeks, who take an anti-EU position. What would you say is the balance of power in the government between people who are in favor and against of staying in the European Union?
A. In my opinion, Tsipras has control of around 55% of his own MPs.
Q. Would they agree to the next memorandum?
A. That’s why they don’t want the agreement of the 20th of February to go through parliament. They are frightened of their own MPs voting against it.
Q. But in that case even if they some people may have accepted the Februry 20th Agreement because they thought they were gaining time would they approve of a next memorandum?
Q. So they wouldn’t bring it to the parliament in that case?
A. Exactly. They are creating an atmosphere of spreading the blame. Of saying that even Mr. Lafazanis or whomever disagrees with the government’s policies, he also bears part of the blame for the whole situation. So, when we come to the point that the government has to sign a new agreement or contract, the Left position, or the Left Platform of the Syriza Party, will be isolated from the people and from the party itself .
Q. Why from the people?
A. Because they would also give part of the blame to Lafazanis. He’s a member of the government. Greek people don’t bloody care about declarations, like the one made by Mr. Lafazanis just recently. They believe in facts and in results. What they see right now is that nothing is changing. The unemployment is climbing, the depression is getting far worse than it was a few months ago, and everybody’s waiting, and are planning to do something about it.
Q. But surely the government must know that if they continue the same path of austerity, at some point they will be voted out…They would be committing suicide politically, eventually. The people voted for them hoping for change.
A. Yes. And they will create a new government [and break up with the Left flank of Syriza, JT], a national coalition government, with TO Potomi, with parts of Pasok and New Democracy and with Golden Dawn, saying that there is no other way. This is the only hope.
The fascist leader of the Golden Dawn Party recently said “I am investing my hopes in the government.” Only the Communist party says that something is wrong with the whole situation. Of course the Communist party has other problems and difficulties but we have no actual opposition inside the parliament.
Q. But Syriza must know that they won’t be voted in again if they continue…
A. Yes, but I think that they might create a special situation here in Greece in order for the people to be frightened and probably they will form a national unity or interim government like Papademos government we had in 2012.
Q. Still, the government must know that if it solves the economic situation through a certain set of actions it has a high chance of getting reelected but if it continues in the same path of austerity, its political future is finished. So why would it commit suicide like that?
A. Well, I think that the whole strategic plan of the oligarchy here politically and economically is to make a comeback of their own political parties.
Q. Like New Democracy and Golden Dawn?
A. Exactly. Will it be a comeback through a national coalition, as in 2012 following the bailout and the resignation of Papandreou? I don’t know. It depends on how the people will react. If we will have huge demonstrations in the streets and the people will be asking for the resignation of the government then it would be quite difficult for a national coalition or for Papedemos style government.
Of course what the oligarchy believe is that through the channels they control, the media, they will try to convince the people that there is no way out. So you have to keep the power in the hands of the responsible old parties. They know how to govern, because the new government does not. You can hear already such fables from the media. They have to convince the people they cannot govern themselves. They cannot put their own interest first. A different option, not even a radical one, is out of a question. The oligarchy is like a junta.
Q. But again why would the leadership of Syriza want to commit suicide politically by continuing with austerity?
A. The leadership maybe has its own plans.
Q. For example?
A. For example, like what happened with Mr. George Paprandreu. You see, you have Tsipras. Tsipras, is the image of mediocrity. He is not capable of anything. He is part and parcel of the fat machine that represents nothing particular. Given the chances, he may decide, to go for an international parliament, become a statesman on the international level, something that Mr. George Paprandreu tried but failed. You see, it’s a new phase. A left-leaning politician, nowadays, has a very high market value. So why not? I don’t know, I’m just thinking. They have to sign for another contract because the other option is to confront the Troika and to say goodbye. And we have to support our country and our interests, based on international law. Basing our interest on international law is the same time putting an end to the foundation of European integration. Because European integration is becoming step by step a supranational state. And you have former member countries, saying stop. We want to be a nation-state. For our people and for democracy. And people are saying, we want to abide, not to your own rules of the EU dictated from Brussels but by the national rules. You know, it would be a revolution, in Europe.
Q. So you think nothing will come out of Mr. Tsipras meeting with Mr. Putin?
A. No. Mr. Tsipras is going to Putin but a few days earlier he signed the declaration of the European Union against Russia. And even in the declaration they are saying that we are not recognizing Crimea as Russia. So, he is going to Putin to say what?
Q. But recently the Greek government said that it will not continue to support the next round of sanctions.
A. Yes, that’s something Tsipras said to the Russian agency TASS. In my opinion, it’s only for popular consumption because right now we are abiding by the rules and sanctions of the European Union and of course of the United States. Because even the European Union is not really Germany but the United States. From what I can see from the movements they are making, the United States wants a confrontation, even a war, with Russia. So, it’s a very big issue for a government that has been backing off on all issues of its own interest to go up against Brussels, Berlin and Washington.
Q. Why can’t Greece turn to Russia and China as an alternative?
A. Well, yes, but if that was the plan, they would have already sent their own groups, incognito, to several countries, asking for support. Because if you are planning a confrontation, you have to know firsthand, which countries will support you at the critical moment. We have good relations with the Russian delegation here in Greece and with Latin American delegations and even with the Chinese. Nobody told that that members of the Syriza cabinet or the leadership or the party, came to them, to discuss how China or Russia or even Latin America can support them. Nobody.
Q. But Mr Tsipras did meet with the Russian ambassador immediately after the elections… you don’t think that there was a possibility that they raised other options?
A. No. They discussed nothing. The Russian ambassador told us that he was trying to make a conversation with Mr. Tsipras on the big issues but Mr Tsipras said “no, we can handle the whole situation, we don’t want any special help. The only thing we want is to have good relations with your country.”
Ok, that’s understandable. And we know even from the foreign ministry of Russia and from the Russian media that they tried to present a possible solution to the dead end that Tsipras and his cabinet are facing right now. But nobody discussed anything about it.
Q. What do you see as a possible solution to the current crisis?
A. In my opinion you have to get rid of the Euro and declare the repudiation of debt. You have to start from repudiating the debt. Saying that ‘you know, you made us less than a colony.’
Q. But what would you do to prevent speculation against the Draghma? Capital flight?
A. First of all, we have to implement capital controls. It’s not a big deal, in Cyprus you see how even the European bank put capital controls, of course in favor of the big capital in Cyprus. We can do it in favor of the Greek economy and of course in favor of the majority of the Greek people. At the same time, there will be no speculations because, we need around 6-8 months to import the new national currency and for the first 6-8 months we will have the Euro. Who is going to speculate against the Euro?
Q. But the day the Draghma comes in, there will be speculation.
A. To speculate against the national currency, you have to find it first freely in the foreign markets. Give me one reason, for the new government and the state’s central bank, to place the new currency in the foreign markets?. We are not going to support foreign speculation by selling our new national currency. We can say that after two years, there will be a meeting for stabilization and development of the Greek economy and then we will make our national currency available for purchase only by those who want to buy our currency for more than 4 billion euros. So you’ll have a national currency protected from speculation. We cannot have masses of currency at a specific time open to purchase and then have a situation in which the central bank has to get into the capital markets and start buying back your own currency using currency deposits or gold. No, we are not going to go back. That’s the good thing about implementing or having a new national currency, the freedom to chose what to do with it. That’s also the big mistake Argentina made. What they did, by repudiating 70% of the public debt was actually good. But what they didn’t think about was the currency. Change the currency. Say that you can provide your economy with a new peso. Like for example, Chavez did with the new Bolivar. And stop the speculation for some time in order for your own economy to stand on its feet and develop.
Q. In the scenario you put fourth, how would you revive the economy. What would be the engine for growth? Tourism? new infrastructure?
A. In my opinion , in the productivity of labor.
Q. In which areas, for example?
A. You can have special production spheres. We need to have around 30-35% of GDP in industry and agriculture. Right now, both are less than 16% of the GDP. Through industry and agriculture we can have the best performance for the benefit of our economy. We can provide the people with stable employment and growing wages. We can have every year higher wages when we invest in the productivity of labour, not in the price of the labour. The two are very different. You can have competitive economy without having to perform austerity measures against the working people.
Q. Can the Greek industries compete globally? Also, if Greece defaults, it would not be able to trade its agricultural products with Europe because there would probably be sanctions.
A. Right now, more than 60% of the agricultural production of Greece is traded outside the European Union. We are losing every year about 5-10% from commerce inside the Eurozone. So actually right now we don’t care about losing trade in the Eurozone. We need other markets for our produce, for agriculture, and for the development of industry. And we can do that by saying that we don’t want to produce anything by ourselves. What we want is to offer the international market only what we can produce very well in terms of quality and price, through productivity. And to do that we need an exterior protection of our production, for some sectors, or import taxes.
Q. Closing off the market in some areas?
A. We will say that you cannot import everything Greece is producing until our own production develops. That is something that the United States does. You cannot import corn into the United States. It’s the same thing. No world organization of commerce will say to you “what are you doing?” Protecting industries is something that everybody does.
On the other hand, we will say that we do not want any kind of imports, which are against the health of the Greek people. We don’t want genetically modified food or mechanically devised meat. We can provide our own people with very good meat, food, and everything we need. Through that we can give an incentive to producers in agriculture. We don’t care about the external market. Whatever surplus we have locally, we will then provide it externally.
The motivation and the main force of our economic proposal is to improve the wages of the working people. If they have enough money they can buy what they want and provide for the development of the economy. At the same time, the economy will provide them with more leisure time through the development of productivity. By giving leisure time, people can get involved in political activism, decide things by themselves and get involved in running the country. Once you provide for the people all the basic necessities of life, then people will not need to work in two or three jobs. In Greece, it’s something that is going on now. To provide for your own family, that’s the model we have in mind.
Q. Which other countries invested in the productivity of labour?
A. Well, actually, many countries took similar measures. From Latin American countries to Norway. But you have to remember that we are in a unique situation. No other country apart of the United States in the 1930s, had to face such a depression like our depression. Actually, it’s not a question of depression. It’s total destruction. So, we are in a unique position. We have to think in a unique way in order to provide for our people in the shortest possible time. Not by saying to them, what the present government says, “wait”. The average family here in Greece cannot wait because there is no money after the first 15 days of the month.
Q. Do you think that there will be a popular uprising in June or July?
A. We are working on a particular side of action, that’s all I can say.
Q. The economic situation for most people is unbearable. So how does the government think that they can subdue the people for another year or two?
A. Nobody knows. It depends on the people. If the people decide that nothing can be done, the whole situation for the government and for the political system would be quite simple. If the people deicide that ok, we got rid of the previous government, and the present government does not deliver, they will take step. When we had demonstrations in the first couple of weeks after the elections, [in favor of the Greek government taking a strong stand, JT] there was a fitting slogan which was expressed: ”I don’t know what is up ahead but I’m not going back”. That’s the whole situation right now in Greece. And the government has to put up a performance because of the time bomb. Nobody knows what will cause the time bomb to explode. And I think that if the people in the next few months will fight for something better, against the present government, then we eventually face a war situation here in Greece. Not in terms of civil war but through NATO. You see all around us, the war situation in Turkey, in Syria, in Yemen, even in the Balkans [this was before the recent crisis in Macedonia, JT]. It’s not difficult for them, if they don’t have a strong popular government, to create a similar situation in Greece.
Q. Can you elaborate a little bit? I’m trying to understand.
A. For example, it’s quite easy to have a provocation like the one in Paris with Charlie Hebdo. It’s easy.
Q. For the sake of silencing public dissent?
Q. Isn’t there a danger that people would move as a reaction to the Right?
A. I don’t see why. We hear from all across the political spectrum that the Greek people will support Golden Dawn. I don’t see it happening. I don’t see more people going joining Golden Dawn. On the reverse, we have a lot of people fleeing from GD, because they see what they are. I don’t mean in terms of fascism, but they see that they voted for someone some people but that they are not patriotic enough, they do not have a word inside the parliament. But if we have a provocation like Charlie Hebdo, and you’ll have army on the streets, then it would be a completely new situation and no one knows what will come out of it.
Q. But that danger would also apply if there would be a Greek government that would be independent and take a strong position.
A. The difference is that we will have the people organized, in every neighborhood, in every village. In such a scenario of popular mobilization, we give them the possibility, not only to discuss things but to police their own areas. That’s why, in my opinion one of the first measures we have to take as a government is to provide people with more leisure time and provide a basic income scheme, in order to provide for everyone so that they will stay above the poverty limit. Why is that? Not only for economic reasons. We need them to be out there. We need them organized. To have enough time and not to be preoccupied with trivial things of the everyday life, which are not trivial actually, you need to provide for your own family, so that’s why we need to put forward solutions that can provide for the people not only socially and economically but even politically.
Q. No one knows the future but the way things are going now, what to see you see developing this year?
A. Either we will lose our statehood and become the first state under international law and in the international community that gave up its statehood or a revolution. No middle ground.
Q. But wasn’t the statehood already given away by the earlier memorandum?
A. Yes but not fully. The new contract is what I’m afraid of. What the Tsipras government is preparing for right now is to give up the Greek statehood to the Institutions, that’s why they are calling them Institutions. Well, actually you can have international institutions or national-based institutions like the parliament. And what they are saying is that they are giving political sovereignty to institutions against Greece. That’s what happened. But right now there is no agreement or contract. They are trying to create a situation in which they could sign a contract like that.
Q. And do you think that there will be enough people who would resist?
A. From surveys that have carried been out by institutions outside Greece, we know that more than 50% of the people know that they have to leave Europe but they don’t imagine how. They are trying to solve the basic problem: who is going to deliver us from Europe? What kind of political formation, what kind of a movement? The Greek people, right now, know that they have to leave Europe. But they are not convinced who is going to deliver them.
Q. But all polls in the past show that a majority of Greeks wanted to stay in the Euro. Maybe that is because they don’t realize the economic ramifications or for sentimental reasons.
A. A year ago, more than 50% of the Greeks were in favor of the Euro but right now more than 50% are definitely against the Euro , they want to get rid of the Euro but they do not know what is the political solution which would allow them to get out. The people see through all of the political parties. Who is going to deliver? Syriza? Forget it. KKE? Forget it. ND and Pasok? Of course not. So who? And that’s the big question for the next 6-8 months, we’ll see.
Q. To conclude, would you say that capitalism is in crisis globally and that it may have a few more decades to go, perhaps even less, or would you say that what we are seeing around the world are local problems?
A. No. It’s a world situation. We have what economists call the absolute surplus of capital that cannot go in to the economy so they are searching in a destructive mode to provide for more profit. And that’s why the whole system is becoming more barbaric. The capitalist is going back and taking forms from ancient regimes,such as feudalism. What we have today is a capitalistic feudalism, and instead of the old lord , we have the lord of money, the banker. The old lord had a monopoly on earth, and for the rest of the society having work on earth, on land, to provide for itself and for generations to come. People had to pay for the land on which the lord had a monopoly. Now, the bankers have the monpoloy on money, not just capital. And they sell it to you through various ways.
Q. We are seeing more and more western democracy turning into a police state in various places
A. Not even police state, because a police state needs to be first of all a state , an organized state. No, they don’t want an organized state right now. They need to have an opportunity for the capital market and for imperialism for a country to become a real estate for them. If you have an organized country, even a tyrannically organized state, it’s bad for them. You have an organized people. And organized people who are resisting is very bad for them because they cannot take over easily. So they want to destroy the state, sovereignty. They want to create a situation where most of us are nomads.
Q. But it seems that the world is definitely moving in that direction of barbarisam and feudalism you describe, so is there any way to fight that?
A. The Greek people have to make the first move. And that is to decide to fight for their own country. That’s the only way. And of course, you start from the basics. You start from what the conception of rights we had in the French revolution in 1789, right now, the global system denies even the natural rights of the French enlightenment. People are fighting now for the basic fights but nowadays we do npt see bourgeois forces fighting alongside the people, because the bourgeoisie or the middle class actually is dissolving, under the regime of the bankers, or as some Americans call them, the banksters. So the only ones who can fight for the country, for democracy, are the people. Now people can have a new type of state based on democracy that all the philosophers discussed. It’s something that is quite practical and it’s something that can be implemented in a record time, because of the technology and the possibilities of communication we have. That’s why the most important action to take now is to fight for national independence, national sovereignty and democracy.
The main imperative nowadays is to fight for national sovereignty and democracy. Everything else comes after. And the people will decide what type of social or political system works. But for that to happen, you have to give them democracy. The ability to decide.
Since the French revolution, the central issue has been fighting for national sovereignty. Imperialism and colonialism doesn’t want any kind of national sovereignty to remain. Even the American people are no longer have a democracy. You cannot be a socialist or a progressive without fighting first and foremost for democracy through national sovereignty. In 1890, Engels told his British comrades that when countries are occupied, one cannot talk about internationalism and forget about the demand for national determination. Claiming so is propaganda in favor of colonial and imperialist interests.
Brussels and Berlin want to create an example out of Greece for Podemos and Sein Finn.
Q. What’s the role of international solidarity in the case of Greece? Does it even make a difference?
A. The best solidarity one can have with the Greek people is to fight against your own government, all around the world. Because every time we have a popular movement gaining something against the global system and the local oligarchy, it’s very big help even for the Greek people. Because the average Greek citizen can say “if they can do it, I can do it too and even better. “ That’s the basic assumption we have to about solidarity.
Q. Last question: there is an interesting argument others have made that if you look at where neoliberalism capitalism failed, it’s Greece and Ukraine. Is there any kind of similarity?
A. It’s the same thing. The main difference is that in Ukraine capitalism is achieving its goal through war means and in our situation it’s a huge experiment. How to put under occupation a whole people, a whole country, without war. It’s a huge historical experiment for the global system.
Q. To what to degree will Podemos in Spain replicate what Syriza is promising in Greece?
A. We have Brussels and Berlin wanting to create an example out of Greece for people in Podemos and Sinn Fein and in other parties and movements. In my opinion, Podemos is more grassroots than Syriza. Podemos has a lot of people and movements that are thinking like us about national sovereignty and fighting for leaving the Euro and leaving the debt. They are part of Podemos. The main difference is that Syria is an old party machine. Podemos has no party machine. When you are part of Podemos, you have the ability to develop arguments the euro. You can say so easily and freely. In Syriza, even before, it was punishable according to the party apparatu for Lafazanis to say that it is bad to stay in the Euro. In Podemos you don’t have that right now the same party regime. That’s why if we were in Spain probably we would be members of Podemos.
Q. You are a socialist and yet you worked for a bank in London. How do you explain this?
A. I was an economist working for several entities among them was huge investment bank as an economis.t I was a member of the Communist Party for almost 20 years and I left the Communist Party because I saw that there was no way you can improve things by being a member of the Communist Party. That’s why I left. Because I think that he main demand for a Communist nowadays is to fight for national sovereignty and democracy. Everything else comes after. And the people will decide what type of social or political system works for them. Of course, to decide, you have to give them democracy first. Democracy is the ability to decide. That’s why the first and foremost issue is democracy and national sovereignty.
If you see what took place since the early 19th century after the French Revolution, the main problem all around the world and especially in Europe, was to fight for national sovereignty. For example, after the war of 1870, the answer of the official elite to the problem of the war was to create a nationaly- sovereignty state. After the First World War, Woodraw Wilson came up with his 14 points.
Imperialism and colonialism do not want any kind of national sovereignty to remain. Wherever we had wars, we had after the end of the war , national sovereignty for each people, for people to decide their own fate in the country. Nowadays that is what we are losing. Even the American people are losing this. You cannot be a Socialist or a Communist fighting for progress in the world without fighting first and foremost for democracy and national sovereignty.
In the 1890s, Engels said to his British comrades that when countries are occupied and people are repressed, you cannot talk about internationalism and forget about the demand for national determination. Saying is is actually propaganda in favor of the colonial and imperialist interests.