[Marxism] Greece: analyzing forces opposing Syriza-led government

Dayne Goodwin daynegoodwin at gmail.com
Mon Apr 13 04:24:19 MDT 2015

[Kevin Ovenden, visiting Greece, writes a long article sketching his
analysis of forces within and without the Syriza-led government that
threaten its ability to carry out its election mandate.  I have tried
to excerpt the main points below. dayne]

Syriza: escaping the prison of the politics of the past
by Kevin Ovenden
Counterfire, April 12, 2015

same article published at Left Flank with the title:
Greece’s government: No room left for manoeuvre?
by Kevin Ovenden, April 13, 2015

Two hostile intersecting axes are forming against the Syriza-led
government in Athens.

Together they comprise an increasingly cohered effort to destabilise
and defeat the government, to usurp the democratically expressed hope
of the Greek people to break from the iron cage of austerity.

The first axis, from without, has been evident since before the 20
February deal in which the Troika of creditors blackmailed Athens into
accepting the principle of a new austerity memorandum.
. . .
The second line of attack by the Right, and much more menacing, is
over law and order, larded with racism and strong-state rhetoric...
. . .
... there are allies on the government benches for the strong state,
law and order push. And they are not only from the illiberal ANEL. The
minister of public order, with responsibility for the police, John
Panousis is from Dimar – the modernising, essentially Blairite
breakaway from Syriza to its right.
. . .
A second sinister provocation against the government and the left has
also gone without even reprimand. On the Independence Day parade on 25
March a group of special forces soldiers chanted bellicose,
anti-Turkish slogans boasting of invading Istanbul and hoisting the
Greek flag. Many observers, foreign and domestic, were shocked. Left
Syriza MP Vasiliki Katrivanou called for action against nests of
ultra-nationalists and the far right within the repressive apparatuses
of the state.

When a few years ago a similar incident occurred the soldiers
responsible – professionals, not national servicemen – were
prosecuted. This time there was not even a perfunctory investigation.
The minister of defence is Panos Kammenos. He is the leader of ANEL.
. . .
That the sights of an incipient authoritarian push are focused more
widely than upon groups on the fringes of the anarchist scene or upon
protecting the “honour” of Greece’s equivalent of Britain’s SAS
assassins became clear to all last weekend. There were violent clashes
in Skouries on the Halkidiki peninsula. There a Canadian open cast
mining operation is devastating the environment and threatening to
withdraw investment unless it is allowed to despoil further.

There has been a huge movement against the operation. Some 10,000
people demonstrated in nearby Thessalonki two weeks ago.
Unfortunately, the miners’ leaders have turned the union over to serve
the company. The police stood idly by last weekend while miners,
acting for the company not in pursuit of their interests as workers
who will have to live in the same polluted environment as everyone
else, attacked protesters.

For Panousis, it was not an example of US-style company unionism in
collaboration with the local unelected state assaulting both people
and democracy in the manner of the Pinkerton private security forces
or – the same thing – a mafia-run wharf as depicted in On the
Waterfront. He adduced the confrontation as evidence of a breakdown of
law and order. Just as conservative university managers have made a
hue and cry in Athens about the ongoing occupation of their admin

Into this noxious mix were released figures last week showing a
four-fold increase in the number of people “illegally” entering
Greece. Probably 40 percent of them are refugees from Syria, whose
first European sanctuary is Greece. They are not, in fact and law,
automatically illegal even by the draconian and racist standards of
Schengen and therefore Greek asylum policy. But in a dangerous
slippage from 18 months ago when official Greece was forced by the
anti-racist movement to bestow pariah status on the fascists, Golden
Dawn representatives were invited by sections of the media to opine
about the latest statistic.

It was actually Samaras
[<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonis_Samaras>] who used his
parliamentary speech over the latest turn in the government’s
negotiations with the troika to focus on immigration. He has provided
a portmanteau into which may be fitted all manner of claims about
national chaos, losing control of the borders, and a breakdown of law
and order.

“It feels like we are under siege,” he says. His image of law-abiding
Greeks assailed by immigrants and by feral, anarchist youth is
antithetical to the actual siege state of siege on the Greek people
and its government laid by capital, domestic and European. The right
is collaborating with those forces in a serious attempt to construct
an alternative political pole to the left’s.
. . .

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