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Greece: the peasants in revolt too

By Savas Michael

A new explosive element entered the situation, already destabilized both economically and politically in Greece, particularly after the December revolt: the peasants, who in their vast majority in Greece are small proprietors of land, (owing about 42 acres each peasant family), have rebelled and paralyzed all traffic throughout the country by their road blocks. All the main routes from North to South and from East to West, have been blocked by thousands of tractors. The borders with neighbor countries have blocked too. The peasants of Serres have blocked the border with Bulgaria, the peasants of Kilkis the border with the former Yugoslav Macedonia, the peasants of Evros the land, borders with Turkey.

The cause of the peasant revolt is the collapse of the prices of agricultural products (cotton, wheat etc.) because of the world capitalist crisis and its deflationary trends. Between the Greek small farmers and the market, an oligarchy of middle men and multinational food industries is reigning, buying very cheap from the farmers and selling in very high prices to the consumers in the cities. The collapse of the prices commodities under the impact of the current world capitalist crisis opened the "scissors" between the low prices paid to the producers and the high prices (and profits) of the middle men and the food industries. Until recently the gap was filled by subsidies provided by the EU. Now, the crisis drives a drastic cut in subsidies. Furthermore, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has as a target to diminish the space occupied by agriculture in countries like Greece. While at the end of the 40s the peasantry was the majority of the Greek population, now it is less than 18 per cent and continues to shrink; the EU target for Greece is to reduce the peasantry to a 5 per cent of the working population.

The peasants in revolt demand that the gap of prices, the enormous costs and accumulated debts of their production should be subsidized by the State- something forbidden by the EU and CAP. The demanded sum amounts to 4-5 billion euros. The Karamanlis government, already shaken by a huge economic/political crisis and by the recent popular revolt following the assassination of young Alexis, has promised to the peasants to give them half a billion euros. For that sum the government will take a new loan from the international banks in conditions of credit crunch. Such a move cannot satisfy the peasants, it will add more burdens on an over-indebted capitalist economy virtually bankrupt, and it will be followed by heavy fines by the EU because of the break of regulations. The ruling class is divided on that issue. The peasants themselves have rejected so fat this governmental offer.

It is important to notice that the large majority of these peasants in revolt have supported in the last two elections the right wing New Democracy, as they had clashed in the last decade with the agricultural policies of the previous PASOK governments. So, it is the political bases of both bourgeois parties alternating in power that are disintegrating. What we have here is a regime crisis.

The solution to the problems of the impoverished labouring peasantry could come only from the workers in the cities in a common struggle to make the capitalists pay for the crisis, not the rural and urban poor; to expropriate the middle men and the food private companies, nationalize the land and forming real peasants cooperatives connected with workers' committees in the cities, planning the economy according to social needs. Against the CAP and the EU only a revolutionary struggle of workers and poor peasants can be effective, to finish with this imperialist alliance of big capital, for the Unites Socialist States of Europe.

In other fronts, now: a General Strike and demonstration of the public sector workers will take place on January 28.

Turmoil in Universities continues particularly in defense of the right to asylum, to forbid intrusion of the police in the university space.

Last but not least, the campaign in solidarity to Kostandina Kuneva and against the super-exploitation of immigrant and local workers escalates and expands beyond the borders of Greece. In France and in Europe a petition for Kostandina is signed by personalities of the intelligentsia such as the well known philosopher Alain Badiou. A new march for Kostandina will take place in Piraeus on January 30th.

January 25, 2009