[Marxism] Richard Seymour on the 'defeat of Syriza'

Dayne Goodwin daynegoodwin at gmail.com
Sat Jul 11 11:04:17 MDT 2015

Syriza. Defeat. Victory. Defeat.
by Richard Seymour
Lenin's Tomb, July 10
 . . .
Now, it seems, Syriza has caved and proposed a deal which is even
worse than the worst.  Cuts.  Privatisations.  Pension 'reforms'.  VAT
increases.  Recessionary measures.  Barely a trace of a progressive
agenda left here, notwithstanding the strenuous and heartbreaking
efforts of euro-leftists to give it a gloss.  In some respects, they
have delivered, after months of fighting, a more complete victory to
the neoliberal managers of Europe than the latter could have won on
their own account.  The social catastrophe that has befallen Greece is
now going to be prolonged - the suicides, the premature deaths, the
medicine shortages, the starvation, the wage losses, unemployment -
but without any possible conviction that, say, a new radical left
government might be elected and put an end to the misery.  What sort
of political forces might stand to gain in that terrain is obviously
undecided; but we have seen what the worst of it could be.

In a way, none of this is surprising.  The only possible coherent
basis for any alternative to austerity was a Grexit prepared for early
on, both in terms of public opinion and effective war-readiness.
There was nothing else coming down the pipeline.  The dominant forces
in the Syriza leadership wouldn't have it.  Not for a second would
Tsipras, Dragasakis, or the recently appointed negotiator Tsakalotos,
allow this outcome.  For them, Grexit was worse than austerity.   Of
course, even if they thought that was true, the failure to even plan
for such a contingency, to wargame the possible outcomes and get
people in the state apparatuses ready to act, was a huge mistake.
 . . .
So what was the meaning of last week's referendum?  Why did they call
it, and what happened to 'Oxi'?  It is fair to say that the Syriza
leadership never expected 61% of Greeks to actually support them.
Neither did I.  The 'Oxi' rallies were enormous, but the fact of this
translating into such a tremendous surge at the ballots, mostly coming
from the working class and from younger voters -  but actually spread
across all the districts of Greece, the rural as much as the urban -
bespeaks a revolt on the scale of the 'national-popular'.  No one
could have anticipated it.  So what did they anticipate?  We could
infer the answer from their behaviour.  On the day after the
referendum, Varoufakis was relieved of his negotiating duties (leaving
aside his generally right-cleaving positions, the creditors evidently
hate him), and instead a new team including delegates from To Potami
and Pasok was sent to discuss the terms of surrender.  Tsakalotos sent
a letter pleading for a new bailout, with a promise of a new
memorandum.  This move would have made much more sense had there been
a narrow vote for 'Yes', or even a narrow 'No'.  It makes no sense at
all now.  It is at least plausible that Syriza leaders would have
preferred to lose and be forced to resign, rather than take
responsibility for this deal.  It is also plausible, lest we overlook
the option, that the Syriza leadership is utterly at sea, pulled
hither and thither by tides and winds it knows nothing of.

Whatever the reason, the referendum did happen and the result was
astonishing.  The majority of Greeks did come out to clearly reject
austerity.  The public protests and rallies building to it, against
the ferocious pressure of the reactionary media and the threats of the
Eurogroup, almost had the character of a social movement.  If we're
fortunate, they were the beginning of one.  This introduces a
significant cleavage between the government and its base.
Objectively, that is the basis of a political split.  Whether anyone
in Syriza will recognise that remains to be seen.
 . . .
Be clear that we are looking a world-historic defeat in the eye.  And
act accordingly.

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