Spartacist Canada No. 186
Montreal: QS Pro-Syriza Rally Menaced by Fascists
On July 4, the day before the Greek referendum on the brutal “bailout” dictated by the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), some 150 people gathered outside the Greek consulate in Montreal to call for a “no” vote. Centrally organized by Québec Solidaire (QS), the rally was endorsed by the Committee for Solidarity with the Greek People and the Montreal councils of the FTQ and CSN labour federations. “Oxi” (“no”) placards were numerous. But so too were Greek and Quebec flags. In line with this show of nationalism, speakers on the podium denounced the Troika (EU, IMF and European Central Bank) while heaping praise on Syriza, the Greek ruling party.
Amir Khadir, a QS deputy in the Quebec National Assembly, intoned: “The Greek prime minister and his Syriza party cannot accept the plan submitted to Greece by the Troika without renouncing their democratic mandate.” In reality, Syriza is a capitalist party committed to keeping Greece in the EU, which necessarily means continued misery for working people and the oppressed. Indeed, just one week after the Greek people voted “no,” Syriza utterly capitulated to the EU’s diktats.
Comrades of the Ligue trotskyste participated in the rally distributing literature and carrying placards calling for a “no” vote, opposition to the EU and no support to the Syriza government. Another LT placard read: “Down With Capitalist Austerity! For a Class-Struggle Leadership of the Unions!”
As the speeches droned on, our comrades became aware that members of the Greek fascist group Golden Dawn had infiltrated the crowd. Under their Greek flags these thugs openly sported the swastika-like “meander” symbol. Fascism has gained a foothold in Greece due to the worsening economic conditions and the fevered atmosphere of nationalism, which is also fostered by much of the left including Syriza. Golden Dawn seeks to deflect rage at the capitalist crisis onto immigrants and minorities, and ultimately to divide and crush workers’ struggles on behalf of Greek capital. Fascism poses a deadly danger to the cause of working people whose interests lie in internationalist struggle to overthrow capitalism.
Our comrades immediately moved to inform the organizers of the threat. QS attempted to play down the danger. Our comrades then spoke up to alert the crowd to Golden Dawn’s presence, shouting “Fascists out!” Furious at the interruption to Khadir’s touching panegyric to the Syriza government and anxious to save face in front of the rolling cameras, the rally organizers sought to eject not the fascist scum, but the Trotskyists! The police soon showed up, saying we had been singled out for causing “trouble.” Several demonstrators expressed their solidarity with the LT comrades.
Later that day, a YouTube video was posted showing Khadir politely telling one of the fascists that QS did not tolerate racism or xenophobia. He then said “thank you” and walked away. Clearly, QS was willing to engage the fascists in a cordial dialogue, while making clear that Trotskyist opponents of Syriza were not welcome at the rally.
Golden Dawn’s brazen appearance at this rally comes in the context of an intense backlash against Muslims in this country fostered by all levels of government. Following a string of attacks on mosques, in March the rightist anti-immigrant group Pegida Québec tried to organize an anti-Muslim parade in Montreal, which was stopped by hundreds of anti-racist protesters. While denouncing Pegida, QS did not join the protest. Worse, its call to ban fully-veiled Muslim women from receiving social services is a direct capitulation to the racist hysteria.
QS is a petty-bourgeois nationalist formation that postures as a “left” alternative to the main capitalist parties in Quebec while in no way challenging the rulers’ profit system. As we have long warned, it is a populist trap for workers and radical youth. Yet QS’s “progressive” rhetoric has attracted various pseudo-socialist outfits like flypaper, including La Riposte, Quebec kin to the English Canadian group Fightback. During the July 4 rally, members of La Riposte ostentatiously refused to do anything to oppose the fascists and literally turned their backs on us when we urged a mobilization to eject them.
As our comrades of the Trotskyist Group of Greece wrote two years ago:
“It is urgently necessary to stop the fascists through mass, united-front mobilizations centred on the power of the organized proletariat!…
“The desperation of the proletarian and petty-bourgeois masses thrown into destitution by this crisis is the fertile soil out of which Golden Dawn has grown. In the absence of a revolutionary, working-class leadership pointing the way out through struggle against the capitalist order, the fascists have found a real hearing for their scapegoating of immigrants and the left.”
—“Greece: Mass Outrage over Fascist Attacks,” SC No. 179, Winter 2013/2014
Mobilizing the social power of the working class to stop fascism is part of the struggle to forge an internationalist party capable of leading the workers to overthrow the brutal capitalist system that breeds racism, poverty and war.