Make or Break Moment for Syriza
By James Stuart
"Greece is being attacked in a vicious, vindictive way by the main organs of international finance capital."
Anyone watch 'A Very British Coup?'. Was on Channel 4 back in the late 80s.
Anyway, so we are at the part when socialist Labour PM Harry Perkins, having pulled Britain out of NATO, removed US bases, dismantled Polaris nuclear warheads, and started a very popular programme of nationalisation, is under heavy pressure by the right wing media and the IMF to accept a bailout loan based upon searing cuts and privatisation that will effectively destroy their government.
It looks like they will accept and fold.
But as Harry is on live tv broadcasting to the nation with a civil service scripted resignation in hand, he goes off autocue. He has an announcement of his own.
One of his trusted Ministers has just returned from Finland where he has done a secret deal with the Soviets.They have offered a huge, no strings interest free loan. The IMF, the civil service, the Americans can go to hell.
Harry will resign, but only for a snap election to re-elect him on the basis of this deal.
Election day comes. But the polling stations stay closed. Troops stand guard outside. The noise of military helicopters can be heard overhead. The Queen is to address the nation.
A very British coup.
Sorry for the spoilers but it is 28 years old.
And the point? Well, it would appear Syriza is faced with a similar scenario. Will they do as Harry and make the break with imperialism? Is there a deal ready with the Russians and Chinese? Will Greece force a Grexit? Leave NATO? Certainly Syriza are hinting at such, meeting Putin, playing hardball with the EU negotiations. But where is the nationalisation's? The economic programme to get capital under the cosh?
Or will Syriza capitulate? Accept the terms? Who do they fear most? The EU? The Generals? The people? Where is their heart? In Europe? With the people? With social democracy? Or with socialism?
Time will tell. But I will be 100% more surprised if they tell the EU where to go and pull a Sino-Russia bailout out of their hat, than I will be if they either accept the EU terms and try to muddle/force through cuts with the impossible task of not pissing off either the people, or the General. Or resign and hand over to an 'interim' govt of technocrats, as in 2011.
At the end of the day, yes, we stand with them. As long as they fight. As Chavez did, as Lula, Allende, Mandela. All in very different and specific conditions.
But they are none of these. They are the euro-left. Trots, greens, social democrats and Maoists turned liberals. This is no Brest-Litovsk moment. Syriza have not overthrown anything other than the political consensus. Sure, a great achievement in any EU nation, but for a Party of 'revolutionary socialists', they seem to have very little idea of how to achieve either. In fact they seem to have very little actual desire to achieve either.
Because how it looks at the moment is the EU as strict father, admonishing his rebellions teenage child to grow up,come home and get rid of that stupid hair cut, with both sides playing their part to a tee.
I could be wrong. I sincerely hope I am wrong. I hope they now remember what they sold themselves as, not just at the election, but for the past 40 years. Anti-capitalists. Socialists. Surely that was a long enough time to make a plan. Or was that whole Transitional Programme business just a pamphlet to quote at the 'Stalinists' when they fell flat?
This is likely their make of break moment. Not just for Syriza, not just for Greece, but for any socialist, or even social democratic project in Europe in this period.
If they have a cunning plan ready to pull out of the hat, great. If not, things are going to get pretty shitty pretty damn fast.
As I said when they got elected, being a 'revolutionary socialist' is a hell of a lot easier when you never have to actually take any responsibility. As the KKE know well for all those decades that Syriza's forbears were slagging them off for their cop outs, cock ups and "historic compromises".
So, at times like these, when their backs are against the wall, when capital is demanding they choose their side, when a real possibility of a fundamental break with imperialism is not only possible, but necessary and desired and demanded by much of the (working class) population, with all it's possible ramifications, scary as they are, then at least ask, if not Trotsky, what would Harry Perkins do?
European imperialism to Syriza: 'Dont cry for me Syriza!"
While I am on the side of Tsipras / Syriza against the european capitalist-imperialists, it is at the same time very clear that Syriza are creating MORE neocolonial confusion and mess than reducing it in their pursuit, as Syriza leader Varoufakis says of trying to "save European capitalism from itself", (source: http://www.theguardian.com/…/yanis-varoufakis-how-i-became…/) ie., the foundational premise of Syriza's strategy is pro-imperialist and think helping to save euro imperialism is in the benefit of the Greek working class.
Although the Greek people and nation are an imperialist one they are nevertheless defined and treated as part of the bottom of the hierarchy defined by european imperialism by the centre of power of this entity which is north and western europe. This does not stop Tsipras and Syriza for framing their strategy in near wholly neocolonial terms, to quote Tsipras in relation to this questionably referendum tactic they have rolled out: "... we all have to remember that Europe is the common home of all of its peoples.That in Europe there are no owners and guests. Greece is, and will remain, an integral part of Europe, and Europe an integral part of Greece.But a Europe without democracy will be a Europe without an identity and without a compass"
There is a lot of neocolonial liberal nonsense in this. Although I fear coming across a tad pinickity, it is imho very important to define exactly what Syriza are saying and the way in which they are defining things. The bottom line is that the conceptual and physical reality which is 'Europe' is nothing other than the ideological and operational nature of modern colonialism and neocolonialism/imperialism. It is actually THE MOST rapacious and oppressive entity ever known to Humanity. Europe is not and has not ever been the 'common home' of all its peoples. But Tsirpas is at least honest at least in this regard that he is begging the masters of 'Europe' to stay in their bosom, cos the fact is that Tsipras and Syriza fear the non-European world more than they do their political parent which is european capitalism.
If Syriza do not try and convince the Greek people that they have a difficult but viable and MUCH MORE just (for themselves and for the world) alternative to team up and go towards the Global South instead of europe, they will remain down neocolonial creek without a paddle. ie., they have NO strategy to negotiate with the ECB/EU etc, cos the ECB/EU etc will NEVER accept anything that a hegemonic austerity and racist system. Syriza have until now refused to show a real counter European strategy, and are relying on what to negotiate with the European masters? NOTHING.
Instead they resort to this nonsensical colonial begging to european imperialism about accepting a 'nicer' more charitable Europe ONLY on its periphery. Well, no sign of that. So wasup Syriza? For all your claims about saving Europe, Europe is NOT AT ALL interested in your going-nowhere saviour strategy, they are fine as they are. So what are you saving actually, and for whose interests?
Like I said, when it comes between the ECB/EU neocoonials and Syriza, its a no brainer that I am on the side of Syriza. But Syriza's narrative needs intense critique because it directly relates to what is happening and will happen to Europe in this next 3 decade period of the transition from an imperialistically controlled world order, to a Global South one. What is the place of european peoples and countries in this transition? Greece shows us the transition more than any other.
- Sukant Chandan, Sons of Malcolm
Global South Option not being Popularised by Syriza Leadership
"The far-left faction in Syriza was gearing up on Sunday to campaign for a “no” vote by promoting their vision of leaving the eurozone, readopting the drachma and seeking special relationships with Russia and China.
“This is the moment of we’ve been waiting for, a chance to let the people decide,” said Alekos, a member of the Communist Tendency, an extreme faction in Syriza.” The problem is that there’s so little time to take the message to the countryside.”" (source: FT 28.06.15)
The best outcome in the Greek referendum would be a No vote to what the EU is offering Greece (ie., more economic attacks on the people of Greece). While the Syriza leadership are showing no real road map and blueprint to the Greek people for an exit from the Euro which a No vote would deliver, the best outcome is a No vote and then teaming-up with Russia, China etc. But like I said, as far as I know, Syriza are giving no clarity and details as to what their plan is if they win the referendum. Giving no detailed plan to your people (like I said, I might be wrong and they are, but I have no heard about it), especially when it entails such major historical shifts reflects poorly on your leadership.
However, the whole orientation thus far is for the Syriza leadership to want to stay in europe. History is pushing them in another direction, pushing them very reluctantly out of 'europe' and into the world. Worst case scenario, Syriza loses this election then they would lose political power and the right and their allies in the EU will take some revenge, and all the hopes of Syriza's leadership of "saving european imperialism for the benefit of the Greek working class" (Varoufakis) will look a bit silly as objective reality states that there is no real change to the order in europe lest you debunk to the Global South. These are major questions of anti-imperialism, ie., the potential transitions of peripheral imperialist countries (like Greece), into the Global South orbit.
- Sukant Chandan, Sons of Malcolm
'Greeks Consume Three More Times than they Produce'
The bottom 90 per cent of Greece is in the top 20 per cent of the world by household expenditure. With 0.2 per cent of the world's full-time equivalent production workforce, the bottom 90 per cent of Greece has 0.6 per cent of the world's household expenditure. In other words, Greeks consume three times more than they produce.
How to explain that discrepancy? By the extraordinary productivity of Greek workers? By explaining how the fierce militancy of Greek workers has wrested a greater share of the national product from the capitalist class? Or by way of the unequal exchange, capital export imperialism and other ways in which rich countries like Greece profit from the surplus labour of the global South's superexploited workforce?
[By an anonymous colleague]