[Marxism] Polls that challenge the mantra that most Greeks want to stay in the Eurozone

Marv Gandall marvgand2 at gmail.com
Tue Jul 14 07:18:07 MDT 2015

On Jul 14, 2015, at 7:12 AM, Louis Proyect via Marxism <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

> First off, it still seems that Greeks want to stay in the euro. While a poll at the end of 2014 by Gallup International found that 52% of Greeks would prefer to have the Drachma over the euro, this seems to be something of a rogue poll. All other polls have consistently shown Greek support for the euro.

There has been a lot of informed comment in academic circles and in the financial as well as left-wing media that Greece would be better off leaving the eurozone than continuing to be subjected to the grinding austerity and deep depression, with little hope of economic recovery, which characterizes its current situation. The argument is that Greece would recover if it were free to devalue its own currency - that it could less painlessly recover its competitiveness though an “external” devaluation of the drachma as opposed to a savage “internal” devaluation based on driving down the cost of labour and social benefits. Even the initial shock of the transition to a new currency could be eased if Greece were able to negotiate an orderly exit with the eurozone powers who, together with the US, have a strategic interest in ensuring a stable Greece on their borders. 

Whatever you may think of that argument, this debate has never really filtered down to the Greek masses who support Syriza’s social program, largely because the pro-euro party leadership has rejected this option from the beginning. This is the foremost reason why most public opinion polls skew heavily in favour of continued eurozone membership.

However much the two issues are linked, however, the referendum wasn’t about continued eurozone membership but about the austerity package. And the deeper issue, as always, is: Who decides these life-or-death issues: the people or the party, the leaders or the working class?

We wouldn’t be having this discussion if the Greeks had voted by 61% to accept the austerity package that was proposed to them in the referendum. The Tsipras leadership would have had the result it was hoping for, despite its cosmetic campaign in favour of a No, and that would be that. It could return to Brussels to sign the surrender terms with the mandate of the Greek people securely in its pocket. We might still lament the outcome, but case closed. It is for the Greeks themselves to decide, not us, not the leaders they elected.

We’re having this discussion precisely because the Tsipras leadership chose to ignore the overwhelming rejection of the austerity package. It acted as if as the popular democracy did not exist, and the popular classes had not decisively pronounced on the issue. It promptly signalled its willingness to the eurozone powers that, despite the referendum result, it was prepared to continue negotiating the terms of surrender. And it did so in concert with the widely despised opposition parties . 

How can we condone this about-face by the leadership, any more than we can condone a union leadership arbitrarily and unexpectedly capitulating to the employer the day after its members roundly reject an agreement assaulting their living standards and working conditions? Even if it were a well-intentioned union leadership which considered it was acting in the best interests of its poor benighted members who did not really understand the implications of what they were voting for?

As an old comrade once remarked to me, “my first loyalty is to the working class, then to the party or trade union which purports to act in its name.”

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