[Marxism] Costas Panayotakis: Democracy Imperiled: The Greek Political Crisis

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Fri May 18 01:59:29 MDT 2012

Correction in caption to tie it to Lou's post

Louis Proyect wrote:



Recent developments in Greece provide an acute illustration of the 
long-standing contradiction between capitalism and democracy.  This 
contradiction has also been felt in Greece in the past, including in the 
history of military coups aimed at the repression of popular movements 
and at ensuring the country's subordination to the wishes of the United 
States during the Cold War.  Just as this earlier history illustrated 
the hypocritical incongruity of the United States' support of brutal 
fascist dictatorships in the name of defending democracy and the free 
world, so does the present moment refute the long-standing myth on which 
the European project was built.

Indeed, far from advancing a democratic project designed to bring 
together the different peoples inhabiting the European continent, the 
political and economic elites both in Europe as a whole and in 
individual countries, such as Greece, have made it clear that, at a time 
of economic crisis, the trappings of democracy are a nuisance.  In this 
sense, the Greek political crisis does not simply revolve around the 
continuation or not of brutal and socially catastrophic austerity 
policies.  The question increasingly facing Greek people is whether even 
the trappings of political democracy are allowed to be swept aside by a 
dictatorship of capital over people that is ever more blatant and ever 
more brutal in the human toll it exacts.


'...the smooth running and economically viable...continuity of 
capitalist production, in accordance with its "technical laws", is 
inconceivable without the constant reproduction of all these 
presuppositions [stated previously, reciting elements of the historical 
consolidation and maintenance of capitalist rule] - at whatever cost - 
under the ultimate supervisory power of the capitalist state. This 
remains true even if the unashamedly violent modalities of direct state 
intervention in the exercise of the state's reproductive functions need 
not surface in the absence of all-embracing crises. As historical 
experience shows, however, they come to the fore with predictable 
regularity whenever the vital practical presuppositions of the ruling 
socioeconomic order are themselves endangered. Thus, significantly, 
under the circumstances of fundamental crises, it becomes necessary to 
cast aside the otherwise much more convenient regulatory devices of 
"liberal ideology". They are replaced by "states of emergency" whose 
declared purpose is the reconstitution of the formerly prevailing 
conditions of capitalist "normality", arbitrarily equated with "law and 
order" as such.'
-- Istvan Meszaros, Social Structure and Forms of Consciousness, vol. 1, 
(MR Press 2010) p. 160.

This comment makes explicit the particulars of the process that Lenin 
counseled against, in support of what Panayotakis suggests in the 
article that Lou posted concerning the "long-standing contradiction 
between capitalism and democracy" and moreover the likely consequences 
if Syriza acts irresolutely or fails to consolidate its constituent 
factions and to lead effectively in forging a revolutionary mass base, 
thereby alienating and disillusioning the coalition's only viable reason 
for existence, the vital, potentially explosive support among those most 
harmed by the preceding regimes' actions. And it applies no less to the 
gathering resistance here in the US, UK and elsewhere in Europe in the 
face of current developments toward a full-on police state as the 
economy slides out from under them. And it is counsel to those who, 
losing track, would cling to liberal nostrums at a time especially of 
structural, as opposed to cyclical, crisis.

Incidentally, many post-mortems on the left following the overthrow of 
Allende's popular unity government in 1973 regarded it as a signal 
failure of his regime, not to have had the support of a reliable 
military. What is said here is a timely reminder why this is by itself 
patently inadequate, putschist, given the organic imperatives of 
continuity of capitalist production and reproduction and systemic 
propensity to authoritarian rule in crisis, and therefore that, after 
all, the real crucial support cannot be other than the working class. 
Then, given the revelatory force of implacable popular solidarity (1917 
and briefly in Egypt and we can expect to occur again there as 
elsewhere), we will once more find out what divisions appear in the 
armed forces.

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