At a central meeting of SYRIZA in Athens last Friday, 14 May, Joe Higgins, MEP for the Socialist Party in Ireland, spoke, along with Alexis Tsipras (chair of SYRIZA’s parliamentary group), Manolis Glezos (member of SYRIZA’s secretariat), Marisa Matias (Bloco de Esquerda / Left Block – Portugal) and Jean Pierre Brar (Parti Communiste Franais – French CP).
The gathering was very successful, attended by between 2,000 and 2,500 members and friends of SYRIZA.
Joe made a very powerful speech, which hit the heart of nearly everyone there, bringing a message of class solidarity to the Greek workers and raising the need for all-European struggle to counteract the attacks of the bosses.
Joe saluted the struggles of the Greek working class and SYRIZA and emphatically said.
“They are asking you to follow the example of Ireland. My advice to the workers in Greece is: do not accept the policy of cuts and attacks imposed by the Irish government against the Irish workers. And my advice to the Irish workers in Dublin, who voted me into the European parliament is: follow the example of struggle and resistance provided by the Greek workers!”
In relation to the debt crisis, he said:
"We must refuse to pay for the crisis caused by the bosses. We fight alongside workers in Greece. We say no to the dictatorship of the IMF and the markets”
He then proceeded to announce the initiative of left MEPs for a Europe-wide week of action against the new austerity, with particular reference to the solidarity that is now needed for the Greek working class. This is an initiative undertaken by Joe himself, now involving MEPs from left parties in Greece, Cyprus, France, Portugal, Denmark and Sweden. He explained that:
"We call for a week of solidarity action, from 21-26 June and we call for the left parties, social organisations and trade unions to mobilise during this week, in solidarity with the working class in Greece and all European workers who face similar problems”
He also explained that:
"the present crisis in Europe has not been provoked by the Greek debt, but is the result of the crisis that the global capitalist system faces…"
Regarding the tasks of the Left parties countering the capitalist crisis, Joe emphasised:
"We need to break the domination of markets, to re-nationalise the banking system under the control of workers and society, so that we can steer investment towards the needs of society, ensure pensions, create social services and bring thousands of workers back into work “
The gathering broke into loud applause when Joe commented on the role of markets with regard to the debt:
"It’s neither the Irish workers, nor the Greek workers that borrowed billions. Let the markets go to hell, erase the debts! They are speculators anyway, they’ve played and they’ve lost.”
Joe’s dynamic contribution intrigued and won the praise of many comrades and friends. It is not an accident that Joe received the applause of the audience each time he completed a sentence, demonstrating in practice the power and the appeal of the ideas and proposals of revolutionary Marxism, particularly in today’s conditions of severe capitalist crisis.