[Marxism] Fwd: Syriza in the Weekly Worker
turbulo at aol.com
turbulo at aol.com
Sun Jan 18 05:41:56 MST 2015
From: turbulo <turbulo at aol.com>
To: marxism-request <marxism-request at greenhouse.economics.utah.edu>
Sent: Sat, Jan 17, 2015 2:12 pm
Subject: Syriza in the Weekly Worker
I thought comrades might be interested in this exchange, in the last two issues of the
the Weekly Worker, regarding the Eddie Ford piece I posted a couple weeks ago. Since I couldn't send these
letters as a link w/o sending the entire letters column, I have posted them as text.
Of course the demandshould be for “Syriza to take power” and “form a workers’ government withsocialist policies” (‘Troika demands more blood’, December 18). Marxist shouldmobilise to get Syriza elected. Now, Marxists understand that Syriza will notcarry out a proletarian revolution - at best it will be a reformist government- but Marxists should support all reforms of the government, and put forwardtheir own programme in contrast to the reforms.
The mass of the workingclass support Syriza. If we say that Syriza is going to let us down, then theMarxists will be sidelined. Eddie Ford says: “Surely it is reckless andirresponsible to spread illusions in Syriza. As it is, the party subscribes toa mealy-mouthed left Keynesianism that is utterly doomed to failure.” Surely itis the duty of Marxists to contrast their programme to that of Syriza. Marxistsshould support the left government, but campaign for their programme, therebyexposing the false policies of Syriza.
“Quite clearly, a Syriza-ledcoalition, enjoying minority support across the country, would have problems oflegitimacy from the very beginning. It would too come under extraordinarypressure from the markets, and would be relentlessly demonised by the mediadomestically and internationally. Under such circumstances would its leadershipnot be tempted to make all sorts of unprincipled compromises?”
Any government thatfought for the working class would come under pressure from the capitalistclass, both in Greece and internationally. Of course, the leadership would comeunder such intense pressure, and they would make rotten compromises. This againwould give the Marxists the opportunity to contrast their policies with that ofthe left reformists.
“We argue in thestrongest possible terms that as a general principle the left should avoid thetemptation of prematurely taking power. Till we have a clear majority, tillthere is the strong likelihood of the working class in other countries formingtheir own governments - ie, the conditions where we have a realisticpossibility of fulfilling our entire minimum programme - then it is best toconstitute our forces as those of the extreme opposition. In other words, wefight to enlarge the democratic space available to us in society. Under theseconditions our forces can organise, be educated and further grow.”
So if there was a hugevote for Syriza, but they don’t gain a majority, even though they may have themost votes they should say, ‘We will not take power’. This would not go downwell amongst the workers, who would see it as a defeat. As for “enlarge thedemocratic space”, Eddie, you are talking bollocks.
The masses learn throughevents, not by Marxists standing on the sidelines slagging off the leftgovernment and putting forward a pure revolutionary programme. As Ted Grantused to say, “Events, events, events will teach the masses”.
Thank god Alun Morgan wason hand last week to remind the clueless armchair Marxists of the CPGB of therevolutionary gospel according to Ted Grant (Letters, January 8). “Events,events, events will teach the masses,” reiterates the comrade: don’t bother withthat silly theory business - thinkin’ ’bout stuff and criticising flawed ideasand whatnot - just get on board the endless strikes and walkouts conveyor-beltand all will be right. “Events will teach the masses,” says Ted Grant. Eventslike the Snowden data leaks; events like the endless, self-perpetratingmurder-fests in north Africa and the Middle East; events like the 2008recession and the ongoing instability of the euro zone perhaps?
Comrade, we’ve had‘events’ a-plenty. We’ve had events coming out of the wazoo. The reputabilityof the bourgeoisie has been nose-diving, the ruling class has been coming apartbefore the very eyes of anyone who would care to look. Meanwhile, basicfreedoms we won and took for granted are snatched away, because even they posetoo much of a threat. The best answers they can give us is ‘more of the same’ -if we’re lucky, capitalism with a human face.
And despite all this, theleft still has failed time and again - and quite spectacularly so - to makegains that would even vaguely threaten the stability of ruling order. ComradeMorgan laments “Marxists standing on the sidelines” with their “purerevolutionary programmes” - is there anything more clichéd than a pure-strainMarxist with their pamphlets and Woolfie Smith beret? Well, yes, actually: howabout the secret Marxist, the Marxist who throws their weight behind whichevermovement presently waves the most sort-of-red flags (or green if no otheroption presents itself); the Marxist without one iota of faith in the base intelligenceof the unthinking human herd.
There is so much talkamongst left sectlets about the alienating tedium of discussing ‘dead Russians’(Left Unity is frustratingly full of it) and yet it certainly seems to me thatthe amount of verbiage spilt over dead Russians pales into insignificancecompared to the endless repetition of that incessant left mantra, ‘Just onemore strike, just one more strike, just one more ...’ (events, events, events).Forgive me, comrade, if I hesitate before I jump on the bandwagon. I’ve heardit all before; in fact day to day in the wider left I hear little else.
And for all hiscriticisms of Eddie Ford’s conclusions on Greece, comrade Morgan has preciouslittle to say about his analysis. In fact he agrees with comrade Ford that theSyriza government is doomed to failure, that yes, of course, the intensity ofinternational pressure will force it to make “rotten compromises”. They shouldbe supported nonetheless, given full backing. And then, once Syriza is sweptaside by its own inadequacies and compromises - crushed by contradiction andthe ongoing attacks of the capitalist class - while the Greek working class isleft battered and broken, who shall step into the void? ‘Real’ Marxists, ofcourse! The pressures imposed by the financiers of Europe will obviously bythis time have abated, and there is no chance that the forces that dragged thetolerable moderates of Syriza rightwards into oblivion will continue to exerttheir influence on the next emergent government. First Syriza, then us!
The logic is nonsensical.What evidence is there to suppose that it is left socialists, armed withstronger Syriza sound-alike principles, that will capture the Zeitgeist? Why not popular rightists? For those whohaven’t noticed, Greece has its fair share of them, and they’re unlikely towhither away in the face of an enfeebled left government. Maybe it was theimmigrants after all?
The whole point ofcomrade Ford’s article was to make clear that the objective politicalconditions make the promises, like those of LU’s Andrew Burgin, of a realworker’s party taking the reins for the first time in an aeon (just likeSpain’s Popular Front in 1936 - look how well that turned out) a completedaydream fantasy. At best, a prematurely in-power Syriza will function as ademoralising machine: tentative hopes and dreams on the input, crushed spiritsand cynicism as an output. Even the electoral reliance of the party on the50-MP top-up speaks volumes about how far the project still has to go; it wouldnot have a mandate to govern without utilising the undemocratic mechanicsembedded within the bourgeois state.
So by all means defendSyriza against the inevitable onslaught from the US and EU. But whypropagandise for them? Why push the party line? Why endorse their present,wrongheaded aims? And surely if in Greece then why not here, and why not alittle further to the right? Isn’t the Labour Party our least-worst option? In essence: why actively contribute to theillusion?
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