[Marxism] SYRIZA betrays the NO vote

Stavros Mavroudeas smavro at uom.edu.gr
Thu Jul 16 03:32:04 MDT 2015


Dear comrades

Attached as a file and underneath as text is an article on the Greek
situation after SYRIZA's unconditional capitulation to the EU.

 

 

Stavros Mavroudeas

 

 

Stavros D. Mavroudeas

 

Professor (Political Economy)

Dept. of Economics

University of Macedonia

156 Egnatia

54006 Thessaloniki

Greece

e-mail: smavro at uom.gr; smavro at uom.edu.gr 

web: http://stavrosmavroudeas.wordpress.com
<http://stavrosmavroudeas.wordpress.com/> 

www.facebook.com/stavros.mavroudeas 

off. Tel: +30-2310-891779

 

Recent books:

The Limits of Regulation

 <http://www.elgaronline.com/abstract/9780857938633.xml>
http://www.elgaronline.com/abstract/9780857938633.xml

 

Greek Capitalism in Crisis

http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415744928/

 

 

SYRIZA betrays the resounding NO vote of the Greek people and signs a 3rd
troika austerity program

The Left should create a popular front against the EU

 


In the 5th of July 2015 the huge majority of the Greek people (61%) rejected
the insolent demands of the EU for the extension and deepening of the
austerity and pro-capital restructuring policies in Greece. These demands
were codified in the so-called Juncker Plan for Greece that set barbaric
terms for the extension of the previous austerity program (the 2nd Economic
Adjustment Program for Greece) in exchange for releasing much delayed
tranches of the troika loans to Greece. These tranches were urgently needed
for repaying instalments of previous loans by the troika. As I have argued
in a previous note (
<https://stavrosmavroudeas.wordpress.com/2015/07/03/the-greek-referendum-and
-the-tasks-of-the-left/> 'The Greek referendum and the tasks of the Left')
SYRIZA was led unwillingly to call this referendum because of the failure of
its unrealistic program for a 'decent compromise' with the EU and for
'staying in the Eurozone at any cost'. Moreover, the whole affair proved
beyond any doubt that EU is a capitalist and imperialist integration that
cannot be reformed towards serving peoples' needs.


The referendum's victory with such huge margin was unexpected even for the
NO supporters. In the short one-week campaign the Greek economic and
political elites unleashed a blatant terror and misinformation campaign
through their mass media purporting that a NO vote would destroy Greece and
that EU's terms should be unconditionally accepted. In this unconcealed
blackmail the Greek politico-economic elite was directed and abetted by the
EU with direct interventions by J.C.Juncker, the German government and the
rest of EU's high priesthood. Moreover, the EU proceeded to literally slowly
strangle the Greek economy by curtailing, through the ECB, the injection of
liquidity to the moribund - because of the troika policies - Greek banking
sector. This led the SYRIZA government - on top of foolishly (?) emptying
the state coffers for paying previous troika installments - to impose
capital controls the very day that pensions were going to be paid. This
alienated significant portions of the middle and lower strata and turned the
previously almost sure NO victory to a gamble.


On top of that, SYRIZA for almost half the campaign week dragged its feet;
flirting with canceling the referendum, revoking its support for NO and with
several of its prominent members and ministers covertly helping the YES
coalition. Only the last two days SYRIZA actually threw its support behind
the NO campaign. Last but not the least, the Communist Party also
facilitated the elite's assault by campaigning for a null vote or
abstention; a move that cost it dearly in its electoral support. Only the
independent and extra-parliamentary Left and grass-roots initiatives and
movements fought from the very beginning for NO.


Despite all these adversities, the NO ended winning by a landslide. It was a
silent landslide because in the mass media and the public debate there was a
suppressing dominance of the YES instigated by the Greek politico-economic
elite and by the incompetent acts of SYRIZA (particularly the banking
'holiday', the capital controls and the problems in paying pensions and
wages). It was also a class landslide in that the working people, the
peasants, the lower middle strata and overwhelmingly the unemployed youth
voted for No whereas the bourgeoisie and the upper middle strata voted for
YES (see
<http://www.publicissue.gr/en/2837/greek-referendum-2015-no-voter-demographi
cs/>
http://www.publicissue.gr/en/2837/greek-referendum-2015-no-voter-demographic
s/).


It is now evident that SYRIZA's leadership and systemic centers did not
welcome this landslide. They expected the win of NO or YES to be by a small
margin that would facilitate them to argue that there is no popular support
for a confrontation with the EU and thus proceed to an agreement with EU's
high priesthood. As all evidence suggests the NO landslide caused panic not
only to the politico-economic establishment and the EU but also to the
SYRIZA leadership. Thus, immediately the day after SYRIZA threw away the
referendum result and its clear message for a confrontation with the EU
despite the financial strangulation by the EU and the pain already felt by
ordinary people. A.Tsipras convened a meeting of the leaders of
parliamentary political parties (excluding the neo-nazi Golden Dawn) which
had either openly (New Democracy, PASOK, River) or implicitly (Communist
Party) opposed the NO vote. In this meeting they all agreed - with the
exception of the Communist Party - to field a new proposal to the EU that
was exactly on the same lines of the rejected in the referendum 'Juncker
plan for Greece'. Moreover, after a few initial skirmishes, SYRIZA
accommodated itself again with the systemic mass media that have implemented
the terror campaign for YES.


EU's high priesthood replied to SYRIZA's new overtures by toughening its
position and demanding even more austerity and anti-popular measures and
threatening with the immediate strangulation of the Greek banking sector and
even a Grexit. In front of this assault SYRIZA and Alexis Tsipras
capitulated unconditionally and they themselves proposed a new 3rd austerity
and restructuring troika program for Greece. This was a complete somersault
the extent of which was unexpected even by most of SYRIZA's harsher critics.
It denotes that SYRIZA's leadership aimed from the very beginning for a deal
with the EU which they knew that it would be barbaric and they simply played
for time in order to consolidate their power and their position in Greek
politics. The EU played along but also indicated - and the SYRIZA leadership
was fully aware of it - that a delayed deal would be more costly. In a
nutshell the SYRIZA leadership delayed in order to gain 'political capital'
at the expense of 'economic capital'. Its last gamble was the referendum.
Once this trick back-fired the SYRIZA leadership blinked and retreated in
panic. It proposed not simply an extension of the previous troika austerity
program under the conditions of the 'Juncker plan for Greece' but a new
3-year program in exchange for either a debt haircut or a debt reprofiling,
a new loan and some funds for development aid.


On the other side of the fence, the EU had its own internal antagonisms.
While all of them were united in blackmailing Greece to capitulate they were
divided in how much pain they were to inflict after the capitulation. The
French and the Italians, reminiscent of their own economic problems and the
fact that their turn might come soon, were keen on milder terms. They were
supported in this by the distant but non-negligible pressures by the US. The
latter does not actually care about the Greek case as such but it uses it as
a lever to weaken German hegemony and the ability of the EU to dispute its
economic supremacy. One of the major issues of disagreement between the US
(and the IMF) and Germany is whether the Greek program would involve a debt
haircut or not; the former press for it and the latter bitterly oppose it.


In the end, a very onerous (for Greece) provisional deal was struck. First,
in order to 'regain the debtors' trust', the SYRIZA government should revoke
all legislation contradicting the troika austerity program and also
legislate through fast track procedures (that violate parliamentary rules)
deep cuts in pensions and wages, extensive privatizations and the transfer
of public property worth 50bn euros to an independent company (that
initially was humiliatingly suggested to be based in Luxemburg but
afterwards agreed to be in Athens). This first move essentially means that
the conditions of the 5th review of the old troika austerity program should
be fulfilled. Second, once this done, the EU and the ECB should slowly
restore liquidity to the Greek banking sector and release some of the due
funds in the form of a bridge-loan. Third, only after the legislation of
several other austerity measures new negotiations would begin negotiations
for a new 53bn euros loan. This new loan would comprise by old tranches,
some new funds from the ESM and a 35bn euros very dodgy development plan.
This last item is supposed to comprise of already available National
Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds that were not actually absorbed
because of the deep recession of the Greek economy and the lack of proposals
and supplementary national funding. Of course, all these would be under
strict conditionality and a return of the despised troika in Athens for
close scrutiny and control. In these future negotiations there is a vague
reference that some alleviation of the Greek total debt (through either
reprofiling or haircut) would be considered.

 

The new austerity measures are extremely recessionary and anti-labor. They
cost more than 13bn euros only for the 2015-6 period that would worsen the
crisis of the Greek economy. Moreover, they would be paid by the working
people and the lower middle strata. Several other pro-capital structural
reforms are included (e.g. mass firings, semi-automatic mechanisms for
fiscal cuts if the public budget is derailed). The new 3rd austerity and
restructuring program would push Greek economy and society further down
towards impoverishment and Balkanization. They will definitely foment
popular discontent as already shown from the current popular mobilizations.

This grave situation poses a serious challenge for the Greek Left. One
futile course is followed by the SYRIZA left. They voted against the deal
but support the government and refuse to leave the party. This will expose
them to popular wrath as willing or unwilling accomplices to the new
austerity. The second futile course is that of the Communist Party that
preaches the coming of socialism as a solution to everything while at the
same time recognizing that this is not on the current agenda. At the same
time refuses to fight against the EU because it considers this as
intra-capital antagonism. This alienates it from and rank and file
communists and the working people as it does not offer a solution to the
immediate popular problems and a transitional program for social change. If
these two dead alleys prevail then only the extreme Right would remain as
the receiver of popular discontent and wrath against the EU and its
austerity.

 

It is of paramount importance for the Left not to leave the field free to
the extreme Right as it had happened in West Europe. A Left popular front
against the EU should be urgently organized. This should involve political
forces and grassroots popular organizations, fight austerity and capitalist
restructuring and strive for the total disengagement of Greece from EU (that
is for a popular Grexit involving leaving the whole structure and not solely
the monetary union). It is the task of the independent and militant Left and
the combatant forces of labor to instigate this front.

 

* Stavros Mavroudeas is a Professor of Political Economy in the Economics
Department of the University of Macedonia.

e-mail:  <mailto:smavro at uom.edu.gr> smavro at uom.edu.gr

web:  <http://stavrosmavroudeas.wordpress.com>
http://stavrosmavroudeas.wordpress.com

 

 




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