[Marxism] Greece’s declaration of independence

Dayne Goodwin daynegoodwin at gmail.com
Wed Jul 1 15:20:27 MDT 2015

Christian Salmon: Greece’s declaration of independence
by Miri Davidson for Verso blog, July 1

For Christian Salmon, announcing the referendum amounted to a
declaration of independence from Tsipras, asserting democracy against
the "zombie" of a financialised Europe that has lost all grip on
reason. This article was originally published in Mediapart. Translated
by David Broder.

By Christian Salmon, 30 June, Athens

Announcing on the night of 26-27 June that a referendum is going to be
held, Tsipras has exploded the juridical and accounting framework that
the leaders of the Eurozone wanted to shut him into. In submitting to
the Greek citizens the measures that the lenders wanted (namely the
European Commission, ECB, and IMF), he has put the sovereign people
back into the negotiation. And brought out into the open the war that
had previously been playing out behind the façade of negotiations.

In a speech that lasted a few minutes, Alexis Tsipras breathed life
and meaning back into the European idea, which has become bogged down
in the story told by institutions and bankers: "Greece, the cradle of
democracy, should send a strong democratic answer". So this wasn’t a
politician’s manoeuvre, but rather a clarification that put the
question of democracy back at the heart of the European debate. You
could see as much if you were present among the thousands of
demonstrators at Athens’s Syntagma Square on Monday evening, in front
of the Greek parliament, if you heard their chants and slogans, and
saw hundreds of placards bearing the now famous OXI (NO!) that so
resembles – even in how it is written – a OUI, a yes to something
else. In calling this referendum, Alexis Tsipras has put an end to
negotiations that had no purpose other than forcing his own
capitulation. But he did more than that: he pronounced what makes for
a true casus belli for the European leaders and creditors: a
declaration of independence!

In calling for a Yes vote in the referendum that Alexis Tsipras has
announced for 5 July, European Commission president Jean-Claude
Juncker doubtless failed to understand the true significance of his
gesture: not only did he interfere in the internal affairs of a member
state, but he has a posteriori legitimised the holding of a referendum
that the EU’s leaders considered a provocation. But Juncker and the
Commission are no strangers to contradiction, and when war is declared
you don’t get too worried about this sort of nit-picking – and now
there can be no possible doubt that war has indeed been declared. A
"war" of a new kind, whose object is not only the Greek debt but also
Syriza’s political credit.

A war of a new kind, whose theatre of operations is no longer the
traditional battlefields, but the financial markets; it is no longer
fought with planes and tanks, but with computer algorithms and rating
agencies’ reports. It is a war of movement that no longer moves at the
pace of troops crossing land, but at the rhythm of the microseconds of
virtual market operations. Rhythms and algorithms. Credit and
speculation. It’s no longer necessary to besiege cities: now we
speculate on the downgrading of the sovereign debt rating. It puts
together programmes and governments. It imposes reforms and
re-workings. A political class that’s on command, populated by
stooges. It is not a matter of negotiating, as in traditional
diplomacy; it is enough to speculate on the fall of a government. And
if that government does manage to resist, you unleash a "bank run", a
financial panic, as we’ve seen in the last week: a true "financial
coup d’état". Standard and Poor’s was not mistaken when it
characterised the referendum as a bad sign for the country’s "economic
stability", and downgraded Greece’s rating to CCC-. This was a call
for defiance, for the markets’ attention; a striking signal of the
subordination of European policies to the financial markets!

But it is also a media war that opposes rival narratives and mobilises
images and words for the purposes of persuasion or captivation. It is
a war whose series of battles are made up of performances that either
succeed or fail. National pride is invoked and then soon smashed up by
the fear of tomorrow. Threat and insult are mobilised. He who loses
negotiating positions can win credit for his courage. And vice versa.
"Tsipras the swindler", Der Spiegel called him after he announced
Greece’s referendum. Bild complained of "Greece extorting Europe". The
Libération correspondent in Brussels announced "the president’s
resignation and the cancellation of the referendum"! Le Monde provided
advance legitimation for a coup d’état against the Syriza government.
"Him or someone else" – it doesn’t matter! "If Tsipras wants to play
poker, why don’t we?" But who are "we"? We, the patriots of finance?
We, the legionaries of ordoliberalism? We, the heirs to the European
oligarchy? How often the truth comes out of children’s mouths!

We often repeat Rudyard Kipling saying that "the first casualty of war
is the truth", and the financial war is no exception. But the truth is
not only a collateral victim; it is also the stated enemy. The virtual
world of finance needs to create its own reality. How can you
speculate without the media, without amplification via social
networks, without the help of little hands writing editorials?

This is the first war of speculation, a financial and digital war that
uses the new information and communication technologies in order to
discredit, intoxicate, create epidemics of panic, and destabilise
sovereign governments. It is not a matter of negotiating, as in
traditional diplomacy, but of speculating on the fall of a government.
. . .
[full at:  <http://www.versobooks.com/blogs/2079-christian-salmon-greece-s-declaration-of-independence>

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