The Greek people vote ‘Oxi’

B1C3rezCMAIo8HjThe historic significance of this vote cannot be overstated. Despite the huge external pressure levelled against Greece by the Troika – the ECB, IMF, and the European Commission – with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, particularly aggressive in demanding the imposition of austerity on a population and society that was already on its knees, the Greeks have delivered a resounding message of defiance via the ballot box.

Regardless of the ultra left voices that have extended themselves in attacking Alexis Tsipras and his Syriza government, at a time when the stakes involved demanded solidarity, they have delivered a masterstroke with this referendum, successfully and magnificently counterposing democracy to the tyranny of global capital. In so doing, they have provided people across Europe with an education in where true power resides.

The demands made by Merkel on the Greek Government have been astoundingly irrational and almost biblical in their cruelty. Greece’s total debt of 317 billion euros is clearly unsustainable and the only realistic and humane solution is its cancellation. Of the 252 billion euros lent to Greece by the Troika since 2010, only 10% has actually reached the Greek people. Most of it has left Greece again in repayments to lenders, mostly European banks, primarily German banks, which lent more money to Greece than any other country during the boom years.

As for what happens now, it is unconscionable that the Troika will not step back from the brink. The notion of an advanced European country being ejected from the eurozone due to indebtedness is hard to conceive. Merkel and the ECB have overplayed their hand and exposed the iniquity of the EU and its role as a servant of neoliberalism and global capital.

But this is for another day. Today belongs to the people and to Syriza. The forces of reaction have been delivered a message of defiance that will resonate across Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

242 comments on “The Greek people vote ‘Oxi’

  1. Sam64 on said:

    ‘Despite the ultra left voices that have extended themselves in attacking Alexis Tsipras and his Syriza government, at a time when the stakes involved demanded solidarity, they have delivered a masterstroke with this referendum, successfully and magnificently counterposing democracy to the tyranny of global capital. In so doing, they have provided people across Europe with an education in where true power resides’.

    Absolutely. And if I was in Greece I’d be out in the street celebrating right now having voted NO this morning. But it’s worth saying that those I’ve seen interviewed on TV over the last half hour are saying (more or less): ‘Great. Important statement. No to austerity. But tomorrow we’re not sure – as, frankly, Syriza is not sure – what happens next: a planned, strategic Grexit or more protracted negotiations with the bastards in Brussels and Berlin whilst the economy continues to implode.’

  2. Four out of ten Greeks didn’t vote in this referendum.
    And the vote does not affect the negotiations very much as Syriza has already crossed it ‘red lines’ and made enormous concessions in order to stay in the Euro.
    If today the streets belong to Syriza tomorrow the power belongs to the Troika and unless the Greeks can gather the strength to effect a rupture with the EU there will be no end to this austerity.

  3. John on said:

    Nick Wright: our out of ten Greeks didn’t vote in this referendum.
    And the vote does not affect the negotiations very much as Syriza has already crossed it ‘red lines’ and made enormous concessions in order to stay in the Euro.
    If today the streets belong to Syriza tomorrow the power belongs to the Troika and unless the Greeks can gather the strength to effect a rupture with the EU there will be no end to this austerity.

    Even now you cannot find it within yourself to offer solidarity to the Greek people. Even now you attempt to isolate the Greek working class from its leadership.

    This is ultra leftism of the most grievous sort.

  4. jim mclean on said:

    What remains of Greek right ordered total subjugation,and now the EU must decide to bail the Greeks out or risk Greece entering into agreements with non european countries. The main risk is that the EU and NATO, rather than leave a vacuum in the Med, will once again call on the Colonels. I would like to see the likes of China supply aid and investment to counteract the EU and IMF whose arrogance has undermined the working classes throughout the world with monetarism and managerialism have created the world of oliagrachs. If the EU treat Greece harshley, it will surely strengthen the Brexit movement.

  5. jack on said:

    John: Even now you cannot find it within yourself to offer solidarity to the Greek people. Even now you attempt to isolate the Greek working class from its leadership.

    There, that’s you told. You and your attempts to isolate the Greek working class from its leadership, you should be ashamed. Just rejoice and shut up.

  6. Nick Wright: Feeding a delusion is not offering solidarity. There is no relief from austerity within the straitjacket of the EU and the euro.

    I agree that Syriza’s position incudes two incompatible objectives of staying in the Euro, and also rejecting the terms of Euro membership.

    However, there is no single predetermined outcome for how that paradox can be resolved, given that the Eurozone project is itself a political one, and therefore in certain circumstances susceptible to redefinition.

    Greece’s negotiating position is stronger due to a clear national popular mandate.

    In any event, there is no mass level of support for Grexit from either the Euro or EU, which means that were Grxit to hapen it would not be the popular will of the Greek people, but a punitive expulsion by the Troika, which would be a social, economic and political defeat.

  7. Sam64 on said:

    Nick Wright,

    Solidarity certainly doesn’t consist of expressing sentiments similar to the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, whilst – no doubt – congratulating yourself that you’re merely being a realist. Realism of this sort is better described as cynicism. It is connected to getting old – more in spirit than in years – and it’s pernicious.

    Yanis Varoufakis has stepped down. Didn’t expect that although I know the troika leaders hate his guts. Not least Jeroen Dijsselbloem, leading EU negotiator, a horrible little bastard who Yanis ran rings around – and a Dutch Labour minister, a Labour… As Yanis Varoufakis signed off ‘And I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.’ Cool dude.

  8. P Spence on said:

    Now watch the rifts open up within and between Germany and France.

    I cannot see Germany conceding to debt relief without a huge about face, discrediting their political elite, and as they see it, opening the floodgates to Italy, Spain et al. On the other hand, crashing Greece out of the Euro will be disaster for them and the debt will be defaulted on, in any event. Therefore it remains in their interest to cut a deal and worry about other nations later on, and hope Syriza is overturned in the next few years. I’m sure that’s what the USA will want too.

  9. Saul on said:

    If the referendum had delivered a mandate to leave the EU and unilaterally write off its debts, whilst simultaneously tackling some of the measures introduced in recent years by the Troika & others, it would indeed be a victory worth celebrating. But of course the result of the referendum did nothing of the sort, and Syriza remains committed to the EU and the Euro, and by extension to the implementation of Austerity. I don’t think it is ultra leftist to point this out, or to acknowledge the necessary struggles that lie ahead for the Greek people.

  10. Vanya on said:

    #14 Exactly, and people who have a far better idea than most of us about the situation in Greece, who have strong implantation and a leadership role within significant sections of the Greek working class and some of its strongest trade unions and a level of mass (albeit minority) support most of the British left could only dream of, are far more scathing. Maybe they are too scathing, but that remains to be seen.

    On Varoufakis’ resignation, I am a big believer in realpolitik over gestures, but it does seem a strange way of expressing democracy and sovereignty to resign because that would make the troika happier. I hope I’m wrong.

  11. John on said:

    Vanya: and people who have a far better idea than most of us about the situation in Greece, who have strong implantation and a leadership role within significant sections of the Greek working class and some of its strongest trade unions and a level of mass (albeit minority) support most of the British left could only dream of, are far more scathing. Maybe they are too scathing, but that remains to be seen.

    Yes, I watched those people with a much better grasp of the situation in Greece filling the streets of Athens last night in their hundreds of thousands, supporting their government. It was inspiring to see.

  12. Vanya on said:

    #16 Well I can understand why they felt elated and like coming out on the streets to celebrate.

    And I think the Greek people should be saluted for making a stand against austerity, a point I made at a small but vocal rally in Manchester yesterday.

    But I also pointed out that the EU cannot be reformed.

  13. Andy Newman on said:

    Saul: Syriza remains committed to the EU and the Euro, and by extension to the implementation of Austerity

    And Abraham Lincoln’s election victory saw him committed to the maintenance of states’ rights, and continuation of slavery in those states where it was already established.

    Lincoln’s victory nevertheless set in motion a change of events that led to the abolition of slavery.

  14. Andy Newman on said:

    Vanya: But I also pointed out that the EU cannot be reformed.

    Are you saying that the EU of today is exactly the same as the the European Coal and Steel Community of 1950?

    If it is different, then the institution is susceptible to change, and things that can change can be reformed. no?

  15. Vanya on said:

    #19 In theory and in the abstract, yes.

    But I don’t think it could be argued that the change from the original arrangement between “The 6”, to what exists now is a step forward.

    You quite rightly make a distinction between change and reform.

    The bottom line is that there are four possible outcomes from these “negotiations”: complete capitulation by the Syriza govermnent, a compromise, complete capitulation by the troika or Greek exit from the Eurozone and the EU.

    Only two of those options could bring an end to EU imposed austerity and only one of those is likely.

    Rejoicing is understandable but in a big sense premature. Syriza are committed to remaining in the EU so in the absence of the least likely possibility (Troika capitulation) Greece will continue to face austerity.

    And if this causes huge disappointment in Greece the responsibility will lie with those who have fostered the belief that it could be any other way within the EU.

    If those of us inside and outside Greece who are saying this prove to be wrong, then I will be more than happy to concede my mistake. And I when I say happy I mean it.

  16. nattyfoc on said:

    I have always believed in “one step at a time” and this to me is a good first step the message “get stuffed” and now lets hope Ireland Spain and Italy do likewise, just maybe this is the beginning of the End for the Troika ?

  17. Saul on said:

    Andy Newman: Lincoln’s victory nevertheless set in motion a change of events that led to the abolition of slavery.

    And it is eminently possible that I would have cheered Lincolns victory in 1861 and cheered again with the passing of the thirteenth amendment in 1865.

    But if I was a slave in the deep south thinking my life was going to change after the sweep of congress’s pen in 1865 I would have been in for a very rude awakening. The abolition of slavery in 1865 did very little (if anything) to address the vast economic and social inequalities that existed in large swathes of the country. It did absolutely nothing with regards to the distribution of wealth entrenched by decades of racial exploitation. It did nothing to address the policies of segregation and racial division that permeated some parts of American society. And so on and so on.

    If, on the other hand, as a slave in the deep south, I was given an accurate analysis of what the passing of the thirteenth amendment actually meant, and the implications of it for me and mine, then at least I’m going to be better prepared for the struggles ahead (all 150 years of them and counting!)

    An accurate analysis of yesterdays vote (and what it does and does not mean) is necessary, and shouldn’t be dismissed as ultra-leftist. Otherwise it is entirely possible alot of Greeks are going to be in for a very rude awakening too!

  18. Andy Newman: Are you saying that the EU of today is exactly the same as the the European Coal and Steel Community of 1950?

    If it is different, then the institution is susceptible to change, and things that can change can be reformed. no?

    What is meant here by ‘reformed’?
    Undoubtedly the EU can be modified, its rules amended to take account of new configurations of forces and new agreements between the various governments that give effect to the desire of the main sections of capital for this bloc of bourgeois states to act in their collective interests against their imperialist rivals, their domestic working class movements and their commercial competitors.

    But ‘reformed’ to become an instrument of popular will, or of working class hegemony?

    Its enough to wake Kautsky up from the dead and claim his prize for demonstrating that bad ideas never quite disappear.

  19. John on said:

    Nick Wright: But ‘reformed’ to become an instrument of popular will, or of working class hegemony?

    Here I am reminded of something Trotsky wrote: “Whoever worships the accomplished fact is incapable of preparing for the future.”

    Or, better still, in the words of Frank Sinatra:

    Next time your found, with your chin on the ground
    There a lot to be learned, so look around

    Just what makes that little old ant
    Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant
    Anyone knows an ant, can’t
    Move a rubber tree plant

    But he’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes
    He’s got high apple pie, in the sky hopes

    So any time your gettin’ low
    ‘Stead of lettin’ go
    Just remember that ant
    Oops there goes another rubber tree plant

  20. Frank on said:

    John,

    ‘A man’s emotions are stirred quicker than his intelligence’.

    Oscar Wilde. It came into my mind when I read your ‘article’.

  21. John on said:

    Frank: John,

    ‘A man’s emotions are stirred quicker than his intelligence’.

    Oscar Wilde. It came into my mind when I read your ‘article’.

    Very good, though personally I prefer this from Oscar, which I believe is more accurate in my case:

    ‘The only thing that sustains one through life is the consciousness of the immense inferiority of everybody else, and this is a feeling that I have always cultivated.’

  22. John,
    A quotation from Trotsky may not possess enough authority to convince everyone.
    But perhaps I can, take the risk, follow your example, and quote from the same paragraph of Trotsky’s ‘Revolution Betrayed’.
    “We shall dwell on the past only so far that it helps us see the future.”

    We can see from the immediate past that, despite its electoral stance and its rhetoric, Syriza has crossed its red lines many times in its attempt to reach a deal with the Troika.

    If the great hopes that many of the left have invested in Syriza are to be be met then this new ‘mandate’ that the Greek people have given them will allow the lamb to lie down with the lion, the EU/IMF/ECB ‘partners’ to cancel the ‘debt’ and the Greek government to end the looting of family budgets and the national treasury in the interests of (mainly) German, French and Italian banks.

    If, on the other hand, Syriza holds with the additional austerity measures it proposed on 26 June then the immediate past will have illuminated the near future very accurately.
    https://21centurymanifesto.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/greeceeu-the-latest-concessions/

  23. John on said:

    Nick Wright: We can see from the immediate past that, despite its electoral stance and its rhetoric, Syriza has crossed its red lines many times in its attempt to reach a deal with the Troika.

    What is your alternative to the status quo Nick? What are you proposing in the inveitable event of a plunge in the valuation of the Greek drachma; zero investment in the Greek economy; a massive spike in unemployment; steep rise in interest rates?

    How do you propose running the Greek economy in the case of Grexit?

    War communism is not a viable alternative.

  24. Karl Stewart on said:

    The issue seems very simple to me. The Greeks have, by an overwhelming majority stood up and voted ‘No’ to starvation.

    And our response should be very easy to work out – good for you Greece, we 100 per cent support you.

  25. Omar on said:

    Tsipras issued a clever statement after the result was clear, indicating he would like to sit down and have ONE ON ONE (my emphasis) discussions with the Troika leaders. The Greek government is ,rightly, going to try and drive a rift between France and Germany and Hollande’s tone has softened considerably in the last week. Frankly, I think Syriza , with massive support from the people, have played a blinder.

  26. John: What is your alternative to the status quo Nick? What are you proposing in the inveitable event of a plunge in the valuation of the Greek drachma; zero investment in the Greek economy; a massive spike in unemployment; steep rise in interest rates?

    How do you propose running the Greek economy in the case of Grexit?

    John
    You must see the irony in asking a communist what he might conceive as the alternative to the status quo?
    I put it this way. If there is no end to austerity and the dictatorship of capital within the EU and the eurozone then the alternative lies outside these mechanisms.
    I am in no position, personally, to chart a way forward for the Greek working class except to point to the historical precedent which demonstrates that unless the instruments of class domination are broken and the ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange is in the hands of the people and the state apparatus exercised on behalf of, and with the active participation, of the working class then there is no alternative to the status quo.

  27. Simon Behrman on said:

    Umm, I don’t think Churchill is really the go-to guy when celebrating left-wing resistance in Greece.

  28. John on said:

    Nick Wright: I am in no position, personally, to chart a way forward for the Greek working class except to point to the historical precedent which demonstrates that unless the instruments of class domination are broken and the ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange is in the hands of the people and the state apparatus exercised on behalf of, and with the active participation, of the working class then there is no alternative to the status quo.

    Socialism in one country. This is not serious Nick. You’re describing a situation where an economy with a low productive base, reliant on inward investment, would break not only with the EU but capitalism. It would instantly be surrounded by a sea of neoliberalism and neoliberal institutions committed to its still-birth. It’s only other source of investment would be BRIC, themselves economies operating under capitalist modes of production, and likely unwilling to be minded to bail out country which offers an example that their own working classes may be tempted to follow and which is floundering in the instability of revolutionary transformation.

    Then there’s the situation within Greece itself. What you are proposing would involve the mobilisation of Greek society in service to socialist revolution and all the hardships and obstacles that would involve. It would pitch the country into civil war and likely lead to the complete fragmentation of Greek society.

    Based on where Greece and Greek society is – and based on the international situation as a whole – this is not a serious proposition.

  29. In the very short term, wouldn’t it make sense for Greece to create a New Drachma and nationalise the banks? The big devaluation that would result would in the short term benefit income from tourism and olive/olive oil exports, wouldn’t it? Couldn’t a socially minded government use that ‘benefit’ in productive ways? Might not other lenders step in where the euro-owners won’t? And if Greece defaulted on some loans, no one is actually going to go to war over it, are they?

  30. John on said:

    Michael Rosen: In the very short term, wouldn’t it make sense for Greece to create a New Drachma and nationalise the banks? The big devaluation that would result would in the short term benefit income from tourism and olive/olive oil exports, wouldn’t it?

    This is more realistic and likely than revolution, I think, though it would involve a period of instability and with it the danger of a resurgent far right and neo fascist movement making its presence felt. The Greek economy lacks diversity and a strong export commodity, with olive oil not enough to sustain the economy on its own. Tourism is strong, but requires stability and security in order to remain so. Greece is blessed with natural resources – sun, wind, and mineral deposits – but would require substantial investment in order to be developed.

    I’d be interested to know what kind of conversations Tsipras has been having with Putin recently. An option for Greece outside the eurozone would be to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and benefit from an alternative source of investment there. There is also the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) recently formed by China, though I’m unsure what the criteria is for membership.

    There are options, however difficult things may be in the short term.

  31. Andy Newman on said:

    Nick Wright,

    Interesting that thr CPB echoes the ultra left stance of their Greek sister organisation, while both Raul and Fidel Castro have been fulsome in their praise of the Greek government.

    Who has the more experience?

  32. Andy Newman on said:

    Michael Rosen,

    This issue of the drachma is one where Syriza really do need to explore their plan B.

    I have no detailed knowledge of the political situation, but as i alluded earlier, being forced out the Euro agsinst their will could be a social, political and economic defeat.

    If on the other hand they prepare for it, politically as well as economically, Grexit from Euro but continued EU membership might be their best option.

  33. John: Socialism in one country. This is not serious Nick. You’re describing a situation where an economy with a low productive base, reliant on inward investment, would break not only with the EU but capitalism. It would instantly be surrounded by a sea of neoliberalism and neoliberal institutions committed to its still-birth. It’s only other source of investment would be BRIC, themselves economies operating under capitalist modes of production, and likely unwilling to be minded to bail out country which offers an example that their own working classes may be tempted to follow and which is floundering in the instability of revolutionary transformation.

    Then there’s the situation within Greece itself. What you are proposing would involve the mobilisation of Greek society in service to socialist revolution and all the hardships and obstacles that would involve. It would pitch the country into civil war and likely lead to the complete fragmentation of Greek society.

    Based on where Greece and Greek society is – and based on the international situation as a whole – this is not a serious proposition.

    John
    You have described, with your characteristic elegance and insight, the scale of the problems serious socialists face.

    But do you seriously suggest, that we do not attempt to tackle these problems.

  34. Andy Newman:
    Nick Wright,

    Interesting that thr CPB echoes the ultra left stance of their Greek sister organisation, while both Raul and Fidel Castro have been fulsome in their praise of the Greek government.

    Who has the more experience?

    The Cubans are always fulsome in their praise of any force in the world that attempts to find fissures in the imperialist bloc. Thus, for instance they often play the EU off against the USA. This is sensible, entirely consistent with the whole tradition of communist diplomacy going back to the first days of the Soviet Union right through to the Ribbontrop Molotov pact.
    After all, was it not Stalin who argued that contradictions within imperialism constitute a strategic reserve for the revolutionary forces.

    Andy, I wonder if your enthusiasm for the Cuban’s diplomatic stance in relation to Greece carries over into their stance in defence of the Democratic Republic of Korea.

  35. Simon Behrman:
    Umm, I don’t think Churchill is really the go-to guy when celebrating left-wing resistance in Greece.

    When 28 civilians were killed in Athens, it wasn’t the Nazis who were to blame, it was the British. Ed Vulliamy and Helena Smith reveal how Churchill’s shameful decision to turn on the partisans who had fought on our side in the war sowed the seeds for the rise of the far right in Greece today

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/30/athens-1944-britains-dirty-secret

  36. John on said:

    Simon Behrman: Umm, I don’t think Churchill is really the go-to guy when celebrating left-wing resistance in Greece.

    Of course not, but in the context of the Greek referendum result his words are fitting. Even a stopped clock and all that.

    Using a reactionary’s words against reaction, isn’t this what we should be doing to subvert them?

  37. anonymous on said:

    Simon Behrman,

    Maybe not. But watching the various vox pops from Germany on the telly and hearing people say that they are not prepared to continue subsidising the Greek people the Churchill quote that went through my mind was ‘The hun is always either at your throat or at your feet.’ I suppose that makes me a very bad person. Maybe they just don’t know about their own country’s problem with debt and how it was resolved.

  38. anonymous,

    The intransigence of the German bourgeoisie (and an explanation for the effort they put into deceiving their own people about the nature of the ‘debt’) lies in the extent of German banks’ exposure and the fact that 90% of the bailout money comes straight back in servicing these loans and goes nowhere near dealing with the problems of the Greek economy or the Greek people.
    Incidentally the hawkish attitude of Merkel’s social democratic vice chancellor demonstrates just how venal German social democracy is and how complicit it is with German imperialism. The exposure off French banks to Greek ‘debt’ may be an explanation for the unprincipled attitude of JL Melenchon also.

  39. John: Then there’s the situation within Greece itself.

    Following the meeting with the president of the republic and the party leaders and asked by a journalist as to whether he is talking about a “solution outside the euro”, the KKE leader D. Koutsoumpas stressed the following:

    “No. We made the following issue clear, that this political line can go in two directions: either they will sign, as it seems and is being scheduled – we will see in the days to follow- a painful agreement, with harsh anti-people measures, a new memorandum, or we will have a state bankruptcy, with a grexit, with a departure from the euro or a double currency or something else. We hear about this mainly from the “partners”, the political parties did not say this at the council of the political leaders. The “partners” talk about this. So our people must be prepared. The position of the KKE is that both these possible outcomes, i.e. an agreement with a memorandum and harsh measures or a grexit or something else will be at the expense of the Greek people.

    The rupture with the EU, capital and their power has as its precondition a totally different strategy, workers’-people’s power, that the people are truly in power and socialize the means of production, disengage from the EU and unilaterally cancel the debt. This is the comprehensive and totally different proposal of the KKE and has no relation to the various views that will lead to the new pauperization of our people. And I mean views that exist in other parties, as a minority at the moment, as they are in the governing party, that talk about exit only from the currency.”
    https://21centurymanifesto.wordpress.com/2015/07/07/the-kke-is-opposed-to-the-anti-people-consensus-of-the-bourgeois-parties/

  40. jack ford on said:

    John,

    Yes I think Tsipras should see what Putin has to offer. Russia is suffering from sanctions because of Ukraine so there might not be much money forthcoming but the BRICS might offer a potential alternative to the Western institutions.

  41. Andy Newman on said:

    Nick Wright: the effort they put into deceiving their own people about the nature of the ‘debt’

    Interesting chap on BBC Radio 4 Today programme, IIRC a head of a finance house saying that Greece is a lot less in debt than the Troika is claiming, because in defiance of accountancy rules, Greece is not allowed to take off its balance sheet debts that have already been written off. The smoke and mirrors being to deceive the populations of the creditor countries

  42. Andy Newman,

    Indeed. This is not a bailout of Greece but of the banks, mostly german and French.

    The real sticking points in the negotiations are increases on taxation on shipping, tourism and pharmaceutical industry which are the most dynamic sections of Greek capital.
    All kinds of contradictions are opening up and are reflected in the resignation of Samaras, the defenestration of the finance minister (as a sop to the Germans)) and realignments – including inevitably in Syriza now that the new finance minister is more obviously a EU man and eurozone fan.
    Giannakopoulos one of the leading shipowners and owner of Bianex the largest pharmaceutical company recommended a clear NO vote putting at least one section of Greek capital in the same camp as Syria, Anel and Golden Dawn.
    Simplistic thinking of the kind on display among the more starry eyed of Syriza’s fans cannot accommodate these kinds of complexities.

  43. Pete Jones on said:

    Nick Wright,

    Whilst I agree with the sentiment, my understanding is that the banks have already been bailed out and the debt effectively taken on by the german – and other – states.

  44. jim mclean on said:

    Pete Jones,

    With Spain and Italy near the top of the list, and that is the crunch, the Italian and Spanish Electorate, having suffered greatly through austerity policies, will not be happy to find out they are facing economic collapse through supporting the Greek Bailout. It is estimated that the Spanish and Italian taxpayers have put up 60 billion Euros, which was not passed on to the greeks but appropriated by the banks, French in the main. Italian workers through their taxes invested 39 billion to help the Greek people, in return they face economic collapse once more. The banks are safe and will probably make money out of this.

  45. Nick Wright: Simplistic thinking of the kind on display among the more starry eyed of Syriza’s fans cannot accommodate these kinds of complexities.

    Quite so, but that still doesn’t mean that the left can be completely dismissive of Syriza and it domestic supporters.

  46. John Grimshaw on said:

    Nick Wright: defenestration of the finance minister

    It now seems likely that Varoufakis slipped up by making a comment of his intent which was then reported to the more moderate Syriza politicians and the Germans etc. Namely that apparently on the Friday he said something like we should prepare to have electronic alternative money and IOU coupons like they do in California, and that it should’ve been done a week ago. He was out on the Monday.

  47. Andy Newman: Quite so, but that still doesn’t mean that the left can be completely dismissive of Syriza and it domestic supporters.

    Quite so. Syriza represents an important constellation of forces and has – to a considerable extent – become the instrument for the attempt to reconcile the illusion the twin desires of a political majority of the Greek people to end austerity but stay in the EU and the eurozone.

    No one actually holds to this illusion anymore. The Syria Anel government has already abandoned the policies on which it fought the election and won a mandate and the difference between the proposals of the Greek government and the position of its ‘partners’ in these negotiations is ever narrowing as more concessions are made.

    We can make a distinction between the great hopes that an important section of the Greek people have invested in Syriza and the ways in which this has infused an element of the Greek people with some energy and initiative and, on the other hand, the hopeless, hapless activity of Syriza’s fan club here whose activity seems to consist of building sand castles in the air.

    The elevation of Tsakalos to the finance ministry signals a more serious attempt to reach a deal on term sset by the EU and the ECB. His predecessor was more connected to the US and IMF circles and the pressure the US is exerting conditioned by its wider geostrategic concerns finds an expression in the French initiative to give more room to a face saving package.
    Of course, the substantial exposure of French banks to the Greek debt is the basis for all kinds of disreputable.manoeuvring across the spectrum of the French left.

    https://21centurymanifesto.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/geometric-progression-to-a-surrender/

  48. sam64 on said:

    I’ve got to say the reports I’m reading about Syriza agreeing an austerity budget deal are depressing if true. According to the Guardian they’ve caved on every fucking issue to appease Brussels and win some debt right off and further credit. I only hope opposition wells within its own ranks

  49. Saul on said:

    sam64,

    And if this does prove the case (as is being widely reported this morning), it makes these words rather hollow doesn’t it?

    Regardless of the ultra left voices that have extended themselves in attacking Alexis Tsipras and his Syriza government, at a time when the stakes involved demanded solidarity, they have delivered a masterstroke with this referendum, successfully and magnificently counterposing democracy to the tyranny of global capital. In so doing, they have provided people across Europe with an education in where true power resides.

  50. John on said:

    Saul: And if this does prove the case (as is being widely reported this morning), it makes these words rather hollow doesn’t it?

    On the contrary, it makes those words even more relevant. It really astounds me the arrogance of leftists in this country who take radical positions safe in the knowledge they’ll never have to live with the consequences of them.

    You think this a parlour game? The banks are closed, people have no money to live, medicines are scarce, and the country is isolated.

    What’s your alternative in practice, beyond revolutionary slogans? Where is this government of 11 million people to get the money it needs to keep people alive? Seriously, please inform us just exactly what alternative you’re proposing.

  51. Vanya on said:

    #59 Whether we have faith in Syriza or prefer the warnings of the KKE, we are safe in this country, and our actions are pretty much limited to commentary.

    The KKE and the trade unions who are linked to them (and with whom I marched on Mayday this year) are not.

  52. John on said:

    Vanya: The KKE and the trade unions who are linked to them (and with whom I marched on Mayday this year) are not.

    The KKE are fantasists and ultra sectarians who have played an atrocious role in this crisis. If they are the solution then all hope is lost.

  53. Saul on said:

    John,

    So some warn of the inherent contradictions within Syriza and the platform they purport to stand on, and explain that because of these contradictions Syriza will not be able to deliver what they have promised (namely remaining in the EU, keeping the Euro, and ending austerity). And others dismiss these warnings and this anlysis as ‘ultra leftist’.

    And as events unfold and these contradictions become more evident, now the ‘ultra-leftists’ are arrogant fantasists and ultra-sectarians who are playing games.

    None of which detracts from the original analysis, which is that staying in the Eurozone, remaining in the EU, and ending austerity, was never a possibility.

  54. John on said:

    Saul: None of which detracts from the original analysis, which is that staying in the Eurozone, remaining in the EU, and ending austerity, was never a possibility.

    Again, what would be the consequences of Grexit? No one to the left of Syriza has answered this in a way that makes sense so far. Where would a KKE govt obtain investment? From what source? How would it deal with the plunge in value of the Drachma? How would it organise the Greek economy? Where would it obtain credit?

    These are real life factors and challenges facing any government and can’t be swept aside with slogans.

    The inherent contradictions of the EU and eurozone are abundantly evident. But they reflect the inherent contradictions of neoliberalism. Neoliberal hegemony is not going to leave the stage anytime soon. The challenge for the left lies in how to navigate those contradictions in a way that wins support among a broad swathe of the working class.

    Serious politics begins where the masses are. It does not begin with standing apart from the masses expecting them to come to you because you happen to be carrying a red flag. This is elitism and sectarianism combined. It discredits the left imo.

  55. Vanya on said:

    #61 Say you from the comfort of Britain.

    The KKE said from the word go that Syriza would impose austerity, not fight it.

    That looks like what’s happening to me (also from the comfort of Britain) I may be wrong. I hope I am.

    If I’m not I don’t see how being proved right makes the KKE fantasists.

  56. Vanya: The KKE said from the word go that Syriza would impose austerity, not fight it.

    But they have fought it, this is the whole point. They’ve fought it more passionately than any other European government has by far. But fighting does not guarantee victory. They are isolated. Where is the European-wide mass movement in solidarity with them? Where are the mass demonstrations in Germany challenging Merkel’s stance? Where are the riots, the disorder, the conditions making it impossible for the ruling class to rule in the old way?

    They cannot fight and win alone amid a sea of neoliberalism. But they have succeeded in deepening consciousness when it comes to the nature of the EU and austerity. The fight is not over. It has to be viewed as part of an historical process of advance, retreat, and advance again.

    This is a long war. When Lenin rolled out the NEP there were ultra leftists in his own ranks who accused him of betrayal and of lying to the workers, etc. He did it out of iron necessity, as at the time there was no alternative.

    Knowing when to retreat is as vital as knowing when to advance.

  57. Gousias on said:

    John,

    The workers were in power when the NEP was implemented… a HUGE difference. And they severly restricted the political rights of the bourgeois during the NEP…

  58. Gousias: The workers were in power when the NEP was implemented… a HUGE difference. And they severly restricted the political rights of the bourgeois during the NEP…

    Yes, exactly, which makes the options available to Syriza even more limited.

    Can we get some clarity then? Are KKE supporters advocating revolution at this juncture? This is a serious question. Do you seriously believe that Greece has entered a revoltionary period?

    As I said, there is no Europe-wide mass anti austerity movement to speak of at present, much less a revoltionary one. This to me would seem absolutely key to events in Greece. Am I wrong? Is socialism in one country a viable option for Greece?

  59. Gousias on said:

    No. Greece is not in a revolutionary period, at the moment.

    How does the KKE see its task in a non revolutionary period? It is a good question.

    Very briefly. To work in the trade union movement, the movement of the self-employed, the small farmers. To increase the level of organization, to intensify the struggles, to block measures and deepen anti-imperialist anti-capitalist consciousness. To create a strong militant movement with a clear oreinettaion on the basic questions (EU,NATO etc) in order to fight against the anti-people policies, to create an infrastructure that would put the working class in a better position when a revolutionary situation emerges.

    Looking at the history of the communist and left movement in the 20th century participation in governments of a reformist nature has not assisted this direction. It has tended to disarm the movement.

    If you read our material we also point to the danger of a Grexit within the EU. When the Greek people leave the EU as a whole it must be a cosncious choice on the basis of an organized mass movement.

    Today we say that we must fight against a memorandum if signed, block and overturn its measures and in the case of a grexit organize the people for the defense of their rights and living standards in conditions when capital will utilize the chaos and depreciation of the salaries to strengthen its position.

    As for Socialism in one country. Greece has potential in mineral wealth agricultural production, energy. It has a well-educated workforce etc.

    http://www.grreporter.info/en/hidden_treasure_greece_%E2%80%93_precious_metals_and_mineral_resources/6639

    Any revolutionary upsurge in Greece (or indeed Turkey, Bulgaria, Spain etc) would have an energising effect on teh movements in the neighbouring countries in the very least.

    As for SYRIZA. Well i know them up close and personal for years… and i would not call them radical left. Lets just leave it at that. Some of them are my best friends and family!

    I understand that we have a different perspective on this.

    But we are not playing games. Over 2500 members of PAME have been convicted in the courts in recent years for their activity. Hundreds of comrades have been dismissed for going on strike (in conditions when it is not easy to find another job). We work hard in teh most difficult areas of teh private sector tio build uniions and struggles in the hotels, supermarkets, ships, factories, shipbuilding, services, pharameutical industry, bottling industry, food industry, construction etc.

    Sorry for my english

  60. John: Knowing when to retreat is as vital as knowing when to advance.

    Yes, it may well be that the Greek government is forced to concede more than it wants to, the key distinction is whether it capitulates, or whether it retreats in order to fight another day. The referrendum was in my view a master stroke in preparing its supporters for a longer struggle, where economic policy has now become an issue of national soverighty with a huge popular mandate. If they are forced to retreat it is because they have been forced to against their wishes.

  61. John Grimshaw on said:

    Can we get some clarity then? Are KKE supporters advocating revolution at this juncture? This is a serious question. Do you seriously believe that Greece has entered a revoltionary period?

    As far as I know the KKE advocate leaving the Euro and the EU. I’ve not heard them ever make statements about whether this is a revolutionary period, but they do formally believe in workers taking over. Their method tends to exclusive and sectarian and they seldom work with other forces on the left.

  62. John Grimshaw on said:

    What bothers me though is that with the concessions thatSYRIZA is making, they may lose support from their backers. It’s also not inconceivable that if the more leftish section causes a split a new election could be forced. What happens if a more right wing government is elected? Then it’s back to square one.

  63. Sam64 on said:

    I think the smug cynicism (Saul) evidenced above has been answered. You almost get the impression that some people on the left welcome defeat with high handed talk of ‘Well, I pointed to the inherent contradictions’ etc, without once having acknowledged 1) the dire predicament SYRIZA was/is in; 2) the real, if perhaps now faltering, resistance to austerity SYRIZA represents. Solidarity in whatever form it’s expressed doesn’t entail abandoning a critical outlook, but it certainly doesn’t consist of sneering from the side lines.

    I think Andy’s point above is key. Is this budget offer that the SYRIZA led Greek cabinet has agreed on, MPs will vote on today and Eurozone finance ministers will deliberate on tomorrow a capitulation or a ‘retreat to live to fight another day’ given approaching economic Armageddon? I don’t know to be honest. There were mixed messages in the reports last night. The comment I made above last night was written after I’d read the Guardian report. Here is an overview from the generally pretty good Paul Mason. If anybody has come across anything else that gets to the nub of the question(s), I’d be interested to read.

  64. stephen marks on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    in effect, yes. Apparently they printed their own ‘alternative’ ballot papers rejecting both the Troika’s austerity and Syriza’s.and urged people to put those in the ballot box – which would have been counted as spoilt and therefore in effect an abstention.

  65. Sam64,

    There is no smug cynicism. There was an earlier accusation that it was ultra leftist to ‘attack’ Syriza, whilst at the same time inferring that any critical analysis of the inherent contradictions present in Syriza ran counter to the needs of solidarity at a crucial time. The clear inference being (and explicity articulated by some) that to present such an analysis and adopt such a position makes one a fantasist, an ultra sectarian, an opponent of the Greek working class etc…

    I really don’t understand why attempts at reaching a correct analysis of what has been happening in Greece, and by logical extension an understanding of the current contradictions and struggles, inspires accusations of smugness, sneering, or arrogance for that matter.

    And as for the dire predicament that Syriza was/is in, and in reference to an earlier point about the credibility of the left – what did the leadership of Syriza think would happen, when it became increasingly apparent that their central electoral promise (of remaining in the Eurozone and the EU, whilst simultaneously rejecting Austerity) was undeliverable?

  66. Both SYRIZA and the KKE are right, and wrong, about different things. The KKE is quite right that SYRIZA’s promise of ending austerity within the EU and the euro was undeliverable, and that they would either fail or capitulate. The whole strategy depended on persuading the EU bosses to accept SYRIZA’s economic analysis and prescriptions. The KKE’s argument that this was a fantasy was quite correct. SYRIZA is right to argue that the KKE’s alternative of leaving the euro and the EU in such circumstances would be economically even more ruinous and lead to even greater impoverishment. The KKE’s line of “breaking with capitalism” is not a remotely serious alternative. Anybody who imagines that a “socialist” economy could be built in Greece on its own in such circumstances needs to get hold of an atlas, look at the coastline, the borders, and think about the practicalities.

    There are lots of good reasons why Greece should leave the euro, and possibly the EU as well. There is a good case for defaulting on the debt. But in the short run at least, whatever happens, ordinary Greeks will almost certainly get poorer.

  67. John on said:

    Francis King: The KKE is quite right that SYRIZA’s promise of ending austerity within the EU and the euro was undeliverable, and that they would either fail or capitulate.

    No, disagree. The other option was that they would split the eurozone and engage US pressure. This they did but not to a great enough extent.

    I still maintain that without a Europe-wide anti-austerity movement of sufficient strength to challenge and worry the status quo, austerity cannot be defeated or ended anywhere, inc Greece.

  68. Sam64 on said:

    Saul,

    Well, I didn’t/don’t see SYRIZA’s failure – by failure I mean the clear inability to resist Euro enforced austerity – as inevitable. I still don’t. I hope that events will play out so that austerity at home and abroad is resisted and reversed. I am sure you do too.

    Politics is partly about – of course there are underlying structures – contingency and the unforeseen. It wasn’t altogether clear before or immediately after the referendum that Germany would take such a hard line, to the extent, as Paul Mason points out, that Merkel and her ministers are quite prepared to see Greece crash out of the Euro and to hell with the consequences. SYRIZA obviously gambled that Merkel would blink and agree to substantial debt write off (that even the bloody IMF favours) without an insistence on hard line ‘restructuring’, i.e. austerity. The German government didn’t blink whilst, so far as I can tell, most ordinary Germans rationalise the whole thing by reference lazy Greeks retiring at 50 – stereotypes that exist here as I encountered in the pub last night. It’s now clear that Merkel is quite prepared to see the entire Greek economy collapse – with the sick joke of the offer to fly in medicines and baby food, humanitarian aid to show EU solidarity. This still might happen. Some people are saying that this SYRIZA budget is tactical, i.e. designed to flush out those in the troika who actually want GREXIT.

    But all of this wasn’t as inevitable and therefore foreseeable as your ‘I told you so’ line suggests.

  69. Vanya on said:

    #72 Maybe they did. Given the circumstances this would hardly be surprising.

    Does that in itself make the KKE’s assessment of the situation incorrect?

  70. John on said:

    Vanya: Does that in itself make the KKE’s assessment of the situation incorrect?

    No, but it does make them sectarian and disconnected from the popular masses.

  71. John on said:

    Paul Mason on Ch4 News just nailed it. Greece was approaching a humanitarian crisis involving a shortage of vital medicines and business going to the wall due to lack of funds at the bank.

    Tsipras’ choice was between bad or catastrophic. He opted for bad. Only 6 rebels against the deal within ruling coalition, 4 of those from Syriza’s right wing partners. Demos against deal in Athens smaller than before.

  72. Vanya on said:

    #83 Clearly if you’re in a minority and you don’t agree with loads of people who go out on the streets you must be wrong.

    So much of history (recent included) teaches, us that. Not.

    Arab Spring anyone?

    Btw, funny how so many of the Syriza enthusiasts on the Brit left are the same people who were so enthusiastic about Scottish independence (yourself being one of the few exceptions) and who sing the praises of the “anti-austerity” SNP.

    They had huge crowds of people on the streets didn’t they?

  73. wwsd on said:

    stephen marks:
    Vanya,

    But 87% of KKE voters ignored the party’s advice and voted ‘Oxi’

    What? The percentage of blank/invalid votes was about the same as the KKE’s percentage in the January election. Slightly higher, in fact. Of course, with the generic description of “blank/invalid”, it is difficult to know how many of these actually “spoiled” their ballot with the KKE’s proposal. But it is reasonable to assume that this must be a substantial amount, probably close to the KKE’s usual electorate, when you look at the far lower percentages of invalid votes in previous elections.

    So I think it’s fair to say that the KKE’s support base pretty much came out in favour of the party’s proposal. But even if they didn’t, even if the rate of abstention was, say, 2% instead of 5.8%, what does that tell us? Just because people vote communist, it does not automatically mean that they themselves are hardcore communists who agree with everything the party does. Most KKE voters probably vote KKE because they are determined and consistent in the class struggle on the ground. It would not have been unusual for this electorate to vote “No” strategically, in order to prevent a “Yes” victory and perhaps the return of the openly pro-austerity right (of course, now they’re getting almost the same thing anyway, but headed by SYRIZA).

    Even dedicated Communist Party members (all over the world) face a hard struggle every day just to steel themselves against the barrage of propaganda and misinformation going around. Compared to that, what about the average voter? In Greece, the propaganda took many forms: that it was either a “Yes” or Grexit; that it was going to be a neck-and-neck between Yes and No; and so on and so forth. I don’t think even the most hardened communist would have been able to blame the KKE voters if they had massively voted No, but instead they largely turned out for the only proposal that exposed the sham of the referendum.

    That the referendum is a sham is now out in the open with the political consensus agreed upon by every single bourgeois party in parliament, and with the new memorandum. Although I’m sure some leftists still think there is some kind of great SYRIZA master plan behind the scenes to “trick” or provoke the people into making a revolution. But if things go on as they are now, the fact is as follows: if either the SYRIZA leftists or the Independent Greeks (in a fit of principled nationalism) decide to make things difficult, they can now simply be discarded for ND, PASOK, and/or The River, depending on how many seats need to be replaced and on whether a leftist or rightist gloss is called for.

    To think that a great many leftists viciously denounced the KKE for refusing to enter government negotiations (ignoring that SYRIZA-ANEL had been in the works for 3 years already). What would have been the added value of the KKE taking part in this farce? What if it had been KKE ministers and MPs instead of Left Platform ones registering their impotent (because previously complicit) opposition to the latest sell-out, before being replaced by pro-austerity figures? We would be in a similar mess, except that the only credible and consistent party in parliament would have made itself discredited and inconsistent.

    sam64:
    I’ve got to say the reports I’m reading about Syriza agreeing an austerity budget deal are depressing if true. According to the Guardian they’ve caved on every fucking issue to appease Brussels and win some debt right off and further credit. I only hope opposition wells within its own ranks

    Well, if those oppositionists do stir themselves, I’m sure the legions of Western European and North American leftist organisations and bloggers will be out there denouncing them for their ultra-sectarian Stalinism. What do they want, socialism in one country??? Because of course that’s the only alternative to raising the pension age and raising the VAT on foodstuffs. Bonus points for adding the always effective, “Well, what are you doing???” or the newly-fashionable variation, “Well, what would YOU do if you were Prime Minister of Greece right now???”

  74. wwsd on said:

    P.S. According to the Graun’s live blog, SYRIZA’s Left Platform has come out in support of the government. They “reject” the new austerity, but will vote for it anyway. You’d think they would do the decent thing: vote against, resign, or both. Maybe some of them could try the “I was going to vote No, but I pressed the wrong button, honest guv” thing, or abstain. They don’t have much credibility left anyway. Did they manage to get any parliamentary work done in-between lecturing in the UK and writing dreadfully boring walls of text for Jacobin Mag, with the message always being the same as that of the dog in the burning house from the meme: “This is fine. I’m okay with the events that are unfolding currently. That’s okay, things are going to be okay”? What can they possibly say now? That they just don’t consider themselves formidable enough to bring down Tsipras, the poster-boy of the European Left? That they’re being cowards on instinct?

  75. Vanya on said:

    On the subject of being told, ” we told you so”, I probably deserve to hear this from all the KKE comrades who, over the last 2 years, I have been telling that they have a sectarian attitude to Syriza.

    I wouldn’t want to replicate the KKE in Britain because we have a different political culture and a different labour movement. But nor do I see any merit whatsoever in trying to replicate Syriza as some say is their aim. Ironically many of them the same people who sneer when someone suggests that Labour Councils have a problem avoiding cuts because of the budget set by a tory government.

    I don’t say that to defend Labour councils making cuts for the avoidance of doubt.

  76. Vanya on said:

    Just watching footage of ultra left sectarians (undoubtedly organised by armchair revolutionaries in Britain) on the streets of Athens saying No to austerity.

  77. John: I still maintain that without a Europe-wide anti-austerity movement of sufficient strength to challenge and worry the status quo, austerity cannot be defeated or ended anywhere, inc Greece.

    This phrase, with great economy, sums up the principal argument of both traditional social democracy (and the new fusion of semi trotskyite, ex-communist, reformist and spontaneist forces that have emerged in this current period.)

    In essence, it defers decisive struggles to an imaginary plane divorced from the real political arena. In one form it suggests that no such decisive struggle can be won within a national political framework until conditions exist simultaneously across the continent. Such a dogmatic and undialectical refutation of the laws of uneven development is an innovation among people claiming a marxist heritage although the new Greek finance minister is firmly of this tendency.
    https://21centurymanifesto.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/geometric-progression-to-a-surrender/

    In its more conventional form it prioritises the arena of the European Union as the site where sufficient forces can be gathered to effect structural change in capitalism.

    This approach carefully avoids discussion of measures that might be needed to deal with the range of coercive strategies that are available to our respective bourgeoisies and their collective mechanisms for ensuring consent.

  78. Vanya on said:

    #90 Exactly. Maybe we should caution the trade union movement in Britain to hold off resisting austerity until we can have a simultaneous struggle with workers in the rest of Europe? Or the left in Spain, Portugal etc – should they be saying the same to their respective working class movements?

    And so many of the same people who are essentially pushing that line in Britain have essentially pursued a position that involves dividing the British working class on national lines.

  79. Vanya: Maybe we should caution the trade union movement in Britain to hold off resisting austerity until we can have a simultaneous struggle with workers in the rest of Europe? Or the left in Spain, Portugal etc – should they be saying the same to their respective working class movements?

    Indeed.

    Unfortunately there is another point which may not be lost on people in Spain and elsewhere. If an ‘anti-austerity’ government is one that, after barely a few months in office, becomes the instrument which imposes the will of the Troika on the country & the people, people may begin to wonder whether its worth the struggle to get an ‘anti-austerity’ party elected, rather than the usual openly pro-austerity parties.

  80. John: Tsipras’ choice was between bad or catastrophic. He opted for bad.

    Grexit & default, plus taking necessary controls of banks etc, would indeed be painful in the short term. But at least Greece would re-establish some measure of economic sovereignty which in the medium to long term could be used to recover and benefit the masses of people.

    However the alternative which Syriza has opted for, ie implementing the demands of the ‘creditors’ is not only also (most likely at least equally) appalling short term, but it leaves the Greek people effectively in slavery to German imperialism & the Troika in the longer term, with no end in sight. Literally no end in sight, as the ‘debt’ is of course unpayable.

    Or does Tsipras believe that, having rejected the idea of defying the Troika following the massive ‘No’ vote, a better opportunity will come along for them to cease enforcing the austerity programme?

  81. jack on said:

    Vanya:
    Just watching footage of ultra left sectarians (undoubtedly organised by armchair revolutionaries in Britain) on the streets of Athens saying No to austerity.

    Yes, I’m afraid that the Greek working class, with all its ultra-left talk of opposing austerity, has isolated itself from its leadership. The Syriza leadership should sack them and elect another one.

  82. John on said:

    Noah: Grexit & default, plus taking necessary controls of banks etc, would indeed be painful in the short term. But at least Greece would re-establish some measure of economic sovereignty which in the medium to long term could be used to recover and benefit the masses of people.

    This is not realistic at all. It would be extremely painful, reducing the country to an even worse state of pauperism than its in now. Never since the end of the Second World War has there been a people in such a dire strait as the Greeks are today. Where would they obtain the investment and credit needed to run their economy? They would stand isolated. The only alternative is Russia/China/Bric and I’m guessing that this avenue has already been explored.

    What most people here are dismissing is the nature of the No vote last week. It was not only a vote against the bailout terms being demanded by the Troika, it was also a vote to remain with the euro and eurozone. Tsipiras and Syriza have no mandate for Grexit.

  83. John on said:

    Vanya: Maybe we should caution the trade union movement in Britain to hold off resisting austerity until we can have a simultaneous struggle with workers in the rest of Europe? Or the left in Spain, Portugal etc – should they be saying the same to their respective working class movements?

    You cannot compare a country of 65 million people, a major world economy with its own currency, with Greece.

  84. Noah on said:

    John: the nature of the No vote last week. It was not only a vote against the bailout terms being demanded by the Troika, it was also a vote to remain with the euro and eurozone.

    If so, that demolishes the argument that the KKE’s position on the referendum was sectarian!

  85. Noah on said:

    John: It would be extremely painful, reducing the country to an even worse state of pauperism than its in now.

    Actually the implementation of the Troika’s current demands will reduce Greece to worse pauperism than it is in now- enforced by the country’s ‘anti-austerity’ authorities,

    Without doubt leaving the Eurozone would also be painful, but in the longer term you don’t need to be in the Euro to attract investment. In fact a devaluation could make inward investment more attractive.

  86. John on said:

    Noah: If so, that demolishes the argument that the KKE’s position on the referendum was sectarian!

    If your view of communism is that it sits apart from the working class rather than is rooted in it then I agree, the KKE are non-sectarian. Wouldn’t they benefit more from being part of the struggle rather than standing on its sidelines trying to derail the leadership of said struggle?

  87. Vanya on said:

    #103 The KKE are central to a significant part of the Greek trade union movement.

    What exactly could they be doing to further the struggle against austerity other than what they are doing at the moment?

    I used to take the view (and had this argument with KKE members in Greece) that they should offer a united front to Syriza and say, ” we don’t trust you to fight austerity, and we don’t believe austerity can be fought along with a commitment to stay in the EU, but if you get elected, as far as you stand up to the troika and refuse to implement austerity policies, we will operate as a loyal opposition, even if we don’t join your government. But if you fail to do what you say we will break with you.”

    I also used to argue this from the comfort of Britain.

    But (a) in my view the current situation shows what a naive view that was and (b) even if it had been correct at the time, events have moved on.

    So again, how should they be engaging in the struggle? In fact which struggle do you refer to?

  88. George W on said:

    John,

    “If your view of communism is that it sits apart from the working class rather than is rooted in it then I agree, the KKE are non-sectarian. Wouldn’t they benefit more from being part of the struggle rather than standing on its sidelines trying to derail the leadership of said struggle?”

    So, sitting on the sidelines in Britain, your definition of “being part of the struggle” is to support an illusion that Syriza-with it’s commitment to the imperialist organisations of the EU and NATO-can somehow reverse austerity? Yet you dismiss entirely the militant work of PAME who have been occupying ministries and TV stations, who have held several high profile strikes lasting several months, who have continued to protest austerity policies whether they are being carried out by the old parties or the new ‘anti-austerity’ party. The KKE are rooted in the working class and are affiliated to a militant trade union group hundreds of thousands strong, they simply oppose illusions about the imperialist EU. It’s called having principles.

  89. Vanya on said:

    #107 John, we’re in Britain. You as well. How are you any more inside “the arena” than Noah or Nick or me?

    And what does this arena consist of?

    We’re having a discussion about events that we personally have no involvement in (unless there’s something I’m unaware of).

    The best thing we can do is further the struggle against austerity where we are.

    It was only natural that people here would be holding up signs saying “Oxi” and Greek flags etc as a symbolic expression of solidarity. As I said earlier I went to one of the rallies last Sunday myself. But what does that mean now?

    People here were saying that we have to emulate “the Greeks”. But what does that emulation mean when the Greek government are implementing austerity policies?

    Do you suggest by the way that the Greek working class should accept the austerity measures imposed by the government?

    Maybe they will and maybe they won’t but to the extent they do the KKE and its trade union allies will be with them and in fact part of them. And I suspect so will a fair few supporters and members of Syriza.

  90. George W: So, sitting on the sidelines in Britain, your definition of “being part of the struggle” is to support an illusion that Syriza-with it’s commitment to the imperialist organisations of the EU and NATO-can somehow reverse austerity?

    The responsibility for defying the EU and NATO is not Syriza’s. What nonsense? You seriously believe that the government of an impoverished nation of 11 million people can stand alone against the juggernaut of global capital and its institutions and not be plunged into the abyss. There is a humanitarian crisis facing Greece. Are you going to make up the shortage of medicines and food the country is facing? Are you going to wade in with an alternative source of investment and credit?

    How dare leftists in this country who haven’t even stopped the closure of their local swimming pool or library pronounce judgment on a beleagured govt that has fought heroically for five months alone.

    Where is the anti austerity movement bending EU govts to its will. It doesn’t exist. This is nothing but posturing.

  91. Vanya on said:

    #111 How dare leftists in this country who haven’t done whatever denounce people in Greece who are fighting back against austerity?

    Your moralising doesn’t wash John. It’s a lazy way of arguing.

  92. Vanya: Your moralising doesn’t wash John. It’s a lazy way of arguing.

    It’s Saturday morning. I’m tired 🙂

  93. Vanya: How dare leftists in this country who haven’t done whatever denounce people in Greece who are fighting back against austerity?

    Those forces are marginal. The judgment to be made is if and when to split from the existing leadership of the struggle. But this can only be made from inside the struggle, its main locus, not the sidelines.

  94. Vanya: How dare leftists in this country who haven’t done whatever denounce people in Greece who are fighting back against austerity?

    Btw, this is a crucial point that has been overlooked. Tsipras and Syriza have been fighting austerity. They have fought it tooth and nail for five months compeltely alone in Europe. But the looming humanitarian crisis facing Greece cannot just be ignored. Again, I’ve yet to receive an answer to a simple question. Where would Greece obtain an alternative source of investment and credit, sufficient to meet its needs? How would its economy function outwith the EU?

    Are you advocating a cash and barter economy? Because without investment, credit, and an export market, this is what you are suggesting.

  95. John Grimshaw on said:

    John: It’s Saturday morning. I’m tired :)

    If you start messaging at five in the morning on a Saturday no wonder you are tired. 🙂

  96. Karl Stewart on said:

    The anti-euro and anti-EU position of the Greek Communist Party has proven to be right by events. Of course a left-exit from both is clearly the best way forward – we should show solidarity with Greece by fighting for a left-exit for our country too.

    John, how are you closer to this struggle than the Greek Communist Party? How can you know better than them?

  97. Karl Stewart: The anti-euro and anti-EU position of the Greek Communist Party has proven to be right by events.

    Varoufakis disagrees http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/10/germany-greek-pain-debt-relief-grexit

    Karl Stewart: John, how are you closer to this struggle than the Greek Communist Party? How can you know better than them?

    I’m with the 62% of Greeks who voted to back their government last week on a platform of remaining within the euro, based on the understanding that the alternative is far worse.

    As for the KKE, I don’t view them as a serious political force. They are sectarian and adventurist, holding to a romantic vision of revolution as the solution.

    This, for example, is straight from their website: “The 21st Century will be a century of regrouping of revolutionary forces, of repelling the attack of international capital. It will be a century of decisive counter-attack, a century of the new rise of the world revolutionary movement and a new series of social revolutions.”

    Enough said.

  98. Karl Stewart on said:

    John,
    With respect, I can’t see how you can interpret last week’s referendum result as an endorsement of the EU. The Greek people voted ‘No’ to austerity and the EU’s undemocratic impositions on them.

    In response, the EU has rejected Greece’s democratic choice and the Greeks now have every right to cancel all the paper ‘debts’ the EU demands from them and organise their own society in the interests of their own people.

    The rest of us should follow their example in solidarity.

  99. Noah on said:

    John: Are you advocating a cash and barter economy? Because without investment, credit, and an export market, this is what you are suggesting.

    I’m not sure why you think that only Eurozone countries can get access to investment, credit, and export markets.

  100. Following the talks in Brussels it seems clear the goal of the Eurozone is now removing Syriza from power in order to deal with a more pliant government in their place.

    It’s like we are spectators at the Coliseum watching an entire nation being ripped to pieces by these animals.

    Mine eyes have been well and truly opened. I can no longer find sufficient arguments in favour of the EU. But to abandon Syriza now would be criminal.

    Where is the anti austerity movement in Germany? Where is the German left? Die Linke? Does anybody know?

  101. Vanya on said:

    #110 Just re-read that (sad eh ?) and clearly that should have read “to the extent they don’t”.

  102. John: Where is the German left? Die Linke?

    There have been rallies in Germany in solidarity with Greece, with Die Linke taking part.

  103. John: the goal of the Eurozone is now removing Syriza from power in order to deal with a more pliant government

    This is political, and far from being merely about the money as such. The German ruling class in particular intends to ensure that the Greeks are utterly crushed, degraded and punished, and clearly seen to be crushed, degraded and punished, for daring to elect a government that even questions the concept of austerity. Pour encourager les autres, of course.

  104. jack on said:

    Wouldn’t it be better, if only to stop further time-wasting, if when people write stuff that turns out to be utter bollocks, they just admitted it and apologized rather than compound it by becoming even more petulant, moralistic, muddle-headed and incoherent than they were in the original article. As Syriza react to the massive vote of defiance to austerity by dropping their keks and bending over so that a bunch of neoliberal thugs can fuck them in the arse, and as those same thugs announce that they’re still not bending quite low enough for their liking, maybe John Wight could at least display the self-awareness to write something like “Oh shit, sorry for that stuff I wrote before. I guess I’m a bit of a fucking pillock. Just ignore me. I’ll get my coat.” I suppose, like the ultra-left I am, I’m just being naive.

  105. Karl Stewart on said:

    jack,
    To be fair, John has now said he’s no longer a supporter of EU membership. And he isn’t ‘a pillock’ he’s a very principled person and talented writer, and the fact that I sometimes disagree with his analysis doesn’t make him any less so. The left needs many more John Wight’s in my opinion.

    The Syriza position of wanting to stay in the EU and fight for progressive reform from within has been the dominant view on the left for the past couple of decades at least – it was my view until about a year ago – but this crisis is proving, in practice, that this view is wrong.

    Similarly, the KKE position that nations need to leave the EU and organise for progressive reform in opposition to it has been a minority view on the left, but this crisis is proving, in practice, that the KKE view is the right one.

    Here in the UK, it’s vitally important that opposition to the EU comes from the left. We need to build a left-exit position in solidarity with Greece and other peoples suffering from imposed neo-liberalism.

  106. Two articles by economist Costas Lapavistas (who is also a Syriza MP) on why Greece needs to leave the Euro:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/25/greece-blackmailed-eurozone-troika-syriza-common-currency

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/sep/19/greece-must-default-and-quit-euro

    Quote:

    “Greece and the government of Syriza have now come face-to-face with the ruthless reality of the eurozone. To keep the country in the monetary union, the lenders are demanding that it should submit to blackmail and accept policies that would lead to national decline. Greek society would face low growth, high unemployment, entrenched poverty and emigration of its skilled youth, as the experience of the last five years has shown.

    “There is an alternative path for Greece, and it would include leaving the eurozone. Exit would free the country from the trap of the common currency, allowing it to implement policies that could revive both economy and society. It would open a feasible path that could offer fresh hope, even if it entailed significant difficulties of adjustment during the initial period.”

  107. Noah: even if it entailed significant difficulties of adjustment during the initial period.”

    This is how Yanis Varoufakis describes those ‘significant difficulties of adjustment’: He writes in the Guardian: “Grexit would be the equivalent of announcing a large devaluation more than 18 months in advance: a recipe for liquidating all Greek capital stock and transferring it abroad by any means available.”

    Clearly we are talking about Greece entering the unknown, which by definition is pregnant with risks. The country as it stands is close to ruin with no alternative source of credit or investment waiting in the wings. Without investment its economy cannot function. Syriza, I maintain, have played the best hand they could under the circumstances. Without any significant European anti-austerity movement seriously challenging the status quo, it has been isolated.

    Their strategy in this, it seems to me, has been to attempt to split the Eurozone and be able to gain some debt relief. It hasn’t worked. Issuing a new currency from scratch is a huge undertaking, esp for a small and weak economy.

    As things stand this is more likely than ever, so we may well see it happen regardless. Syriza need solidarity not condemnation at this time. They still command the support of the majority of the Greek people, which must count for something.

  108. Btw when I mention the lack of a European anti-austerity movement this is not meant as a criticism of the left in failing to build one. It is merely an observation, based on the brutal truth that most people have accepted the premise of austerity – that there is no alternaive, etc. Either that or they do not believe they can fight it and win.

    Our focus I think has to be on Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for Labour leader. If he wins it would be an enormous boost to the anti austerity movement in Britain.

  109. Karl Stewart on said:

    John,
    I think your descriptions of the Greek CP were wrong. Whether or not you agree with the KKE’s analysis, surely you can’t deny this is a 100 per cent serious party, deeply rooted in the Greek working class, with significant and solid support, and a heroic history that goes right back to the early 20th century.

    This party has fought the Greek ruling class since Day One, been banned, its members imprisoned, tortured, executed, its activities driven underground. The Greek CP organised and led the armed partisan resistance to the nazi occupiers, then the civil war against the Greek right, who were supported by the UK and US, in which thousands of their militants were slaughtered, and then again during the dictatorship of the colonels.

    This is an extremely serious organisation, it’s certainly not outside of or on the sidelines of the Greek peoples’ struggles, and it deserves our full respect.

  110. John on said:

    Karl Stewart: This is an extremely serious organisation, it’s certainly not outside of or on the sidelines of the Greek peoples’ struggles, and it deserves our full respect.

    Fair enough, Karl, you’re quite right. I was wrong to dismiss the KKE and take it back. However their policy of ‘first them then us’ is I strenuously believe wrongheaded. The alternative to Syriza will not be them, at least not as far as I can see, and may well blow back in their faces. Ideological purity is a dangerous path to go down for communists in a time of full blown crisis, what with the stakes involved.

  111. Noah on said:

    John: Yanis Varoufakis describes those ‘significant difficulties of adjustment’: He writes in the Guardian: “Grexit would be the equivalent of announcing a large devaluation more than 18 months in advance: a recipe for liquidating all Greek capital stock and transferring it abroad by any means available.”

    Why 18 months? The sensible thing would be to leave the Euro and devalue at the same time, combined with capital controls.

  112. Noah on said:

    John: Our focus I think has to be on Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for Labour leader. If he wins it would be an enormous boost to the anti austerity movement in Britain.

    Absolutely. And a massive boost also to the movement in the rest of Europe and elsewhere.

  113. Presumably by now any Greek with significant liquid assets will already have placed them in a bank outside of Greece’s jurisdiction. If Greece crashes out of the euro, and has to create a currency without preparation from scratch (Varoufakis’ 18 months seems a reasonable estimate of how long it would take to get it properly established), those richer Greeks, whose assets will still be held abroad in euros, will find themselves even richer relative to those Greeks whose liquid assets have been turned into depreciating drachmas. The redistributive effect of Greece’s exit from the euro is likely to be from poor to rich, which is one reason why Germany’s ruling circles seem to be warming to the idea.

  114. Karl Stewart on said:

    Francis King,
    Or perhaps the Greek people, liberated from the tyranny of EU membership, could appropriate those enormous assets held by the wealthy and use those bountiful resources for the benefit of all Greece’s people.

  115. Sam64 on said:

    Well what a day.

    In London the appalling Harriet Harman says that Labour will vote with the Tories on £12bn welfare cuts. In Brussels the EU – well really the German government, that’s who’s calling the shots, it’s a class thing, not a national thing or at any rate a class national – demands significantly stronger austerity, stronger than the Greek offer, that was stronger than the offer the EU were prepared to sanction prior to the referendum. Oh and a whole set of humiliating guarantees that trample all over democracy. Or a temporary, ‘time out’, Grexit – whatever the fuck that is exactly.

  116. Noah on said:

    Francis King: Germany’s ruling circles seem to be warming to the idea.

    The German elite has been threatening a forced ‘Grexit’ for quite a long time now, in fact from before the current Greek government was elected if I recall correctly.

  117. Noah on said:

    Sam64: Harriet Harman says that Labour will vote with the Tories on £12bn welfare cuts.

    Well at least, thank f**k, all the leadership candidates except Kendall have rejected the cut in Tax Credits apparently. Of course, were it not for Corbyn being very definitely in the running, who knows what Burnham and Cooper would be saying.

  118. Karl Stewart on said:

    Noah,
    I’ve just seen Corbyn on the BBC news saying he’s definitely voting against, but haven’t yet heard anything direct from either Cooper or Burnham.

    If both Burnham and Cooper did come out as clearly and openly as Corbyn has, it would surely leave Harman in an untenable position.

  119. Karl Stewart,

    Sam64: the appalling Harriet Harman says that Labour will vote with the Tories on £12bn welfare cuts.

    Part of the motivation for this outrageous announcement, I strongly suspect, is to deliberately p*** people off and stem the flow of new people joining the Labour Party or registering to vote in the leadership election. 100,000 so far since the general election have signed up and I reckon Ms Harman (probably rightly) thinks most will vote for Corbyn. The right-wing establishment really don’t want that to rise by scores of thousands more by August 12th.

  120. Sam64 on said:

    Listening to Merkel’s press conference: a disgusting mixture of overweening practical, technocratic language – ‘then privatisation will proceed’, ‘an asset fund will be established’ – with the occasional ‘the European family’ cliche thrown in. Not just deeply unpleasant but sinister.

    But shit, here’s the Estonian PM, Travis Somebody, he’s worse.

    It doesn’t seem that Syriza has salvaged anything. It seems the 2 sticking points through the small hours, the IMF and the external asset fund, are there according to the new Greek, really European, president: Angela Merkel.

  121. John on said:

    Sam64: It doesn’t seem that Syriza has salvaged anything. It seems the 2 sticking points through the small hours, the IMF and the external asset fund, are there according to the new Greek, really European, president: Angela Merkel.

    Greece has been reduced to de facto colonial status. It marks a seminal moment in European history and for me heralds the beginning of the end of the EU.

    Syriza were in an impossible situation. The Greek banks had been forced to close by the ECB and there was no financial or fiscal lifeline to provide any alternative. This is the lacuna at the heart of the howls of condemnation that have been levelled at Tsipras and his government. The Greek people are suffering unimaginable privation, with medicine and food shortages coming down the track, and without providing a viable alternative the anti-Syriza left is advocating Greek social fragmentation and collapse, with inevitably ugly consequences.

    I don’t think this struggle is over. Not by a long chalk.

  122. P Spence on said:

    John,

    I think that’s right. Syriza have no alternative today. They need breathing space and allies and better to take the deal now and fight tomorrow for national liberation on ground of their own choosing. This truly feels like a colonial relationship. Germany will come to rue the day.

    To say No would result in complete social collapse. Anyone on the Left who argues for that needs to think very carefully.

  123. Sam64 on said:

    John,

    Yes, the only thing I’d say is – and this is going from what Yanis Varoufakis has been saying over the last few days, i.e. A ‘Grexit’ was always part of Germany’s plan’ and, moreover, that was made quite clear to him in his first meetings with Wolfgang Schäuble – that Syriza should have seen this, i.e. a neoliberal coupe followed by vicious austerity, coming months ago.

    Now, I don’t know, perhaps the Syriza cabinet did genuinely consider the alternative: the attempt to manage GREXIT on their own terms. It’s clear that their capitulation was occasioned by having no where to turn, no where to go in the context of, as you indicate, insulin running out in the hospitals, no milk in the shops etc. Perhaps they did consider GREXIT and decided that the reintroduction of a sovereign Greek currency simply wasn’t feasible under any circumstances. End of.

    However, if both of these things are true – there was always going to be severe German imposed austerity and GREXIT wasn’t possible short of economic Armageddon – then you kind of have question whether resistance was worth while in the first place. Really, what has it achieved, what was it ever going to achieve? Look, that wouldn’t be my conclusion. I only hope that’s not the conclusion of anti-austerity activists across, in particular, Southern Europe this morning, Greece and elsewhere. But in the context of emphatic defeat there are pundits warning this morning that 1) Syriza now won’t last long as it’s credibility, its very reason for being, is shot, 2) Golden Dawn will be a beneficiary of what’s happened.

  124. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    [Jimmy, we are not allowing your comments through. Last week you told us how you only see this site as a joke, how you and all your “friends” just laugh at us for how right-wing we all are. You also said that you are better than all of us – you used those exact words. And once again, you’ve written another post in which all you do is insult everyone who is taking part in a debate.

    This kind of divisive trolling is not welcome here. You’ll be welcome back once you say “No, I don’t honestly think I’m better than all of you, I think that we are all trying our best to work through complex issues, and sometimes people come to different conclusions; we simply differ in what we believe are the best ways to deal with this”.]

  125. John Grimshaw on said:

    Karl Stewart: The Greek CP organised and led the armed partisan resistance to the nazi occupiers,

    I agree with you that the KKE is a serious party Karl my previous comments about their sectarianism notwithstanding. Furthermore it is now beginning to seem like their long standing position of leaving the Euro has been proved correct. Unlike most other CPs in Europe precisely because they have the roots and history that you refer to, they have not faded into irrelevance.

    That being said some of this history is mythology as much as reality. Much of the resistance on the ground in Greece in the war was done by EAM/ELAS which admittedly was communist dominated but many others were involved and was separate to the CP in Athens. The CP leadership took their line from the Kremlin which created a poisonous situation. The CP had been told by Stalin that Greece was to become part of the western sphere of influence and they followed the line scrupulously. They deliberately stood down the partisans who in late 1944 had been poised to seize all the towns north and west of the capital. Those partisans who refused to disarm were left to their fates chased down by Greek fascist and royalist units. Aris Velouchiotis one of the foremost leaders of Elam, who refused to disarm, was chased down and was decapitated in Trikkala’s main square in June 1945. To give you a sample this is from Eleftheri Ellada 12th June 1945;
    “The KKE chief Nicholas Zachariadis has made public a central committee decision to denounce the activities of Aris Velouciotis as those of an adventurist and suspect person. Velouchiotis’s current activities are helping the forces of reaction to formulate anti-KKE arguments, providing them with the pretext to claim that the Varkiza agreements (the agreements to accepts disarmament and Yalta) are being broken and to invoke the crimes Aris has committed against the democratic world…”

  126. Sam64 on said:

    Jimmy Haddow,

    It would seem there are severe trust issues with Jimmy Haddow – ho ho, joke, guess most of us need one right now, unless they are members of the I Told You So Tendency, a tendency not a party you understand.

  127. George W on said:

    “your strategy, but because your programme, your position towards the EU, eurozone and the capitalist unions in general, your position regarding the development path and system that you want to serve, inevitably lead to you to struggle at the side of the EU, ECB, IMF, big capital, the monopoly groups, over how the division of the spoils will be conducted, how you will serve their profitability, how in the end you will reduce the people’s income, how you will economically reduce the price of labour power, how you will suck the people dry, so that the parasites of the system will prosper.”

    The KKE on Syriza and its fixation on maintainingbership of imperialist institutions such as the EU and NATO at all costs.

  128. John Grimshaw on said:

    Sent by Kevin Ovenden

    General strike called in Greece against the deal

    – there are more powerful things than Troikas

    – solidarity needed more than before

    (Please share)

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    The public sector trade union federation in Greece, ADEDY, has called a general strike for Wednesday.

    The strike against the Third Memorandum will be officially announced tomorrow. But activists throughout the public sector unions have begun organising for the stoppage this afternoon.

    Activists in other sectors – the private sector, the universities, the school students, etc – are also agitating for whatever action they believe they can get.

    The parliament has to agree the new memorandum by midnight on Wednesday.

    If MPs are to vote tomorrow, then the strike will be brought forward to tomorrow. Militants of the fighting left are pushing for an “active strike” – in the streets with mass demonstrations, not staying at home.

    Angela Merkel *increased* the pressure on the Greek government even after it capitulated. She said that monitoring of moves to implement the memorandum would be strict and begin immediately.

    German media sources report that she is not certain that this government can pass the memorandum – still less implement it.

    The fight is now on. It is not off: it’s the period of shadow boxing that is over.

    The Greek government may have capitulated rather than rupture with the mafia eurozone.

    Now an attempt to impose an austerity “*July coup” against the Greek popular masses risks a different rupture. Between working class Greece and the powers which should not be.

    The Brussels talks settled nothing. They did crack apart and severely weaken the capitalist institutions of Europe.

    The power that delivered the Oxi revolt was not in Brussels, but its spectre felt there.

    That power is the Greek working class with the political independent fighting forces of the radical left at its heart.

    Solidarity with resisting Greece. Not one step back!

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    *The last such attempted parliamentary coup against the popular will (as opposed to coup d’etat) of this magnitude was 50 years ago this week – July 1965.

    It marked the beginning of the end of the post-civil war order in Greece. It finally ended with the overthrow of dictatorship in 1974. It is from that date that the rise of the modern radical left in Greece, as an open force, begins.

  129. jack: when people write stuff that turns out to be utter bollocks, they just admitted it and apologized rather than compound it by becoming even more petulant, moralistic, muddle-headed and incoherent

    You do know this is the Internet?

  130. Karl Stewart: The Syriza position of wanting to stay in the EU and fight for progressive reform from within has been the dominant view on the left for the past couple of decades at least

    But do not their real problems come not from their membership of the EU, but their membership of the Eurozone?

  131. John on said:

    Andy Newman: But do not their real problems come not from their membership of the EU, but their membership of the Eurozone?

    I’m not surve the Eurozone could countenance Greece leaving while remaining in the EU, though, this is the problem. It could set a hare running that would result in the contraction of the Eurozone with all the economic and political implications that would involve.

    I think the Troika has gone too far in punishing the Greeks and that they may well have cause to regret it.

    I certainly hope so.

  132. John on said:

    John Grimshaw: The public sector trade union federation in Greece, ADEDY, has called a general strike for Wednesday.

    ADEDY represents Greek civil servants and has a membership of 280,000. The other major Greek trade union confederation is GSEE with approx 500,00 members.

    Be interesting to see the response to this call.

  133. Francis King: If Greece crashes out of the euro, and has to create a currency without preparation from scratch (Varoufakis’ 18 months seems a reasonable estimate of how long it would take to get it properly established),

    Policy exchange (capitalist think tank) estimates 6 months for Greece to get new currency going- much of the practical problems of this are about getting new banknotes printed. This is a matter that a sensible government would be addressing within a few days of being elected.

    But anyway. Leaving the Euro and default would be followed immediately by devaluation, and does not need to wait until IOUs etc are replaced fully by the new currency. Capital controls and taking over the banks would be required immediately, together with rationing of essential goods, Setting up ‘Mercals’ for ensuring basic requirements in working class areas would be useful.

    Opting out of the Euro and repudiating the ‘debt’ would (or will?) be no walk in the park. But unless the Greek government is prepared to do that, it really has no red lines whatsoever, and the German / Troika overlords can (and will) do whatever they like, and for as long as they like, to Greece and its people.

  134. P Spence: Syriza have no alternative today. They need breathing space and allies and better to take the deal now and fight tomorrow for national liberation on ground of their own choosing..

    Given that the abject surrender terms offered by the Greek government (and upon which the Germans will of course successfully insist on further, much harsher conditions) are even worse than those demanded by the Troika before the referendum, it takes some imagination to envisage Syriza usefully leading such a struggle.

    Sadly, this is all playing out very much as was predicted from the outset by the KKE. Sectarians they may be, but they clearly have a very good evaluation of the key political forces and processes in Greece and the Eurozone.

  135. John on said:

    Noah: it takes some imagination to envisage Syriza usefully leading such a struggle.

    Sadly, this is all playing out very much as was predicted from the outset by the KKE. Sectarians they may be, but they clearly have a very good evaluation of the key political forces and processes in Greece and the Eurozone.

    Perhaps Syriza may not lead the struggle going forward, but they had absolutely zero alternative that was not worse given the cards they’d been dealt.

    They held a referendum and received the overwhelming endorsement of the Greek people to continue negotiating. It was an attempt to weaken the Eurozone but it failed to. The point I continue making is that without a European anti austerity movement capable of challenging the status quo, esp in Germany, Syriza have been standing alone. Their surrender is our surrender and failure to defeat austerity here.

    Re the Drachma. Greece is an economy reliant on imports. It imports everything from food to medicines, and exports little. The huge devaluation that would result in the country issuing its own currency would spell economic and societal disaster as a consequence.

  136. John: Perhaps Syriza may not lead the struggle going forward, but they had absolutely zero alternative that was not worse given the cards they’d been dealt.

    I am sypathetic to your view that given where they are Syriza had little other option but to capitulate, or surrender 11 million people into destitution.

    However, where they are is to a certain extent their own calculation.

    I have hesitated to comment much on this, as I am simply not well enough informed, but it seems to me that Syriza abandoned its strngest bargaining hand as soon as it was elected, by insisting that come what may they would stay in the Eurozone.

    Their strategy seemed to be that they could persuade the Troika of the economic and political widom of their position through the power of rational argument. and they had no plan B.

    They decided to tell Br’er Fox that rather than see Br’er Rabbit be thrown into the briar patch, they would rather see Br’er Rabbit be a meal for the Fox.

    What they actually needed to do was to publically make their pledge to stay in the Eurozone contingent on progress on mitigation of austerity, and prepare for Grexit, as a Plan B. As I have alluded above, the technical considerations are one thing, but creating the political context where Grexit from the Euro was seen as patriotic choce, and not a defeat at the hands of the Germans, were also needed.

    Their capitualtion is a defeat, whether it is a fatal defeat depends upon whether they have any strategy at all for continuiing the fight.

  137. John Grimshaw on said:

    Noah: Sadly, this is all playing out very much as was predicted from the outset by the KKE. Sectarians they may be, but they clearly have a very good evaluation of the key political forces and processes in Greece and the Eurozone.

    Indeed Noah but also by small elements of the left across Europe who were not dazzled by the rise of Tsipras and the obvious contradictions of Syriza’s overall position.

  138. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy Newman,

    I think you are right here Andy. However the defeat is only complete if the Greek working class/anti-austerity activists etc. also leave the field of battle. A general strike and mass demonstrations might stiffen the resolve of the more left leaning Syriza MPs. If (and it’s a big one) Tsipras is defeated in Parliament where does that leave the deal? Surely Tsipras and his coterie would have to go? The howls of anger from the German technocrats would be significant and Greece would have to leave the Euro in a disorderly fashion I presume. Tsipras may try to form a government of National Unity? I think the left should have nothing to do with this and try to force another election. This process may have already started as I understand that one senior minister has already resigned (now two according to the radio) and that two others are refusing to vote for the deal. Ironically Syriza’s minority right wing partners are saying they won’t vote for the deal which may indeed leave Tsipras and his “moderates” dependent on the support of the ND to get the deal accepted.

  139. Karl Stewart on said:

    If we make an analogy here, the strategy of the Syriza leadership can perhaps be compared to a hypothetical union leadership pledging to prevent any pay cuts or job losses, while also promising not to take strike action.

    They then take the ’employers’ final offer to their members, recommend rejection, get an overwhelming rejection from their ‘members’ and then go back to the employer with that and the employer makes an even worse ‘final offer’ which the union leadership accepts and promises to help enforce.

  140. John Grimshaw on said:

    I notice that according to the Mail (what else?) Nigel Farage is calling on the Greek parliament to reject the deal but he’s not the only Brit that I know of that has this attitude. Some of my Labour Party friends are profoundly anti-EU and have been vociferously supporting the OXI campaign etc. Whilst they may not have much in common with Farage they agree on this, namely that whatever happens in Greece it may well set light to the forthcoming EU referendum. If Greece bombs out of the Euro (and possibly the EU) this will prove the disastrous of being in the constraining and undemocratic EU. It will show how perfidious are the technocrats especially the Germans. Equally is Greece acquiesces to stay in the Eurozone the same thing will be proven.

    I wonder what impact all of this will have on any referendum?

  141. Noah: Opting out of the Euro and repudiating the ‘debt’ would (or will?) be no walk in the park.

    …to put it mildly. And the resulting economic disruption would hit those without property or funds abroad hardest. It may well be the best, or even the only, thing they can do. It may well lay the basis for a subsequent sustainable recovery. But SYRIZA was not elected on a blood, sweat and tears programme – it was elected on an anti-austerity programme. So I can well understand their reluctance to take a step which, in the short and medium terms, would almost certainly accelerate the rate of impoverishment of the poorest.

  142. John Grimshaw on said:

    Francis King,

    I understand the point here. On reflexion though I wonder if the referendum tactic was wasted. Presumably the calculation was that it may force the hand of the Germans etc. Rather it seems to have made them more insistent and it didn’t really mean that Syriza could do something that it wasn’t already doing. Maybe they should’ve kicked the can further down the road and then had the referendum on whether to accept a final deal. Yes fine accept it, or no we leave the Euro. Whatever the result the government would then have known where it stood vis the people andf would then have been free to resign and force a new election.

  143. Andy Newman: Their capitualtion is a defeat, whether it is a fatal defeat depends upon whether they have any strategy at all for continuiing the fight.

    It must be doubtful whether Syriza – as presently constituted – could lead a fight. Given that it is deeply divided and with its dominant sections signed up to the deal ( and anyway including a substantial section of Pasok defectors) it may not survive intact.

  144. Sam64 on said:

    Nick Wright,

    This is one of the points Paul Mason made last night on C4: how Syriza’s credibility to continue to lead any fight back against austerity will be weakened, perhaps fatally so, by having to rely on centre right MPs to pass the laws the EU is demanding, prior to bailout monies being released. That the centre right haven’t been able to capitalise on the defeat of Syrizia is indicative of its own disarray, lack of credibility. I would think that Yanis Varoufakis has more popular support than the New Democracy leader I saw interviewed on the news. He was almost coughing and spluttering in trying to convey his hatred of Varoufakis: the worst thing ever to befall Greece etc. Simultaneously, he didn’t have a critical word to say about the EU, the Germans. I would doubt that there’s a promising future for such a politician.

    Who may benefit, as Yanis Varoufakis points out here, is Golden Dawn.

  145. Sam64 on said:

    This sound familiar to any trade unionist up against the worst kind of manager?

    “It’s not that it didn’t go down well – there was point blank refusal to engage in economic arguments. Point blank. You put forward an argument that you’ve really worked on, to make sure it’s logically coherent, and you’re just faced with blank stares. It is as if you haven’t spoken. What you say is independent of what they say. You might as well have sung the Swedish national anthem – you’d have got the same reply.”

    Could be economics, could be something else.

  146. John Grimshaw: Presumably the calculation was that it may force the hand of the Germans etc. Rather it seems to have made them more insistent and it didn’t really mean that Syriza could do something that it wasn’t already doing. Maybe they should’ve kicked the can further down the road and then had the referendum on whether to accept a final deal. Yes fine accept it, or no we leave the Euro. Whatever the result the government would then have known where it stood vis the people andf would then have been free to resign and force a new election.

    What this past week has done is spell the end of the Eurozone. The Germans and their allies have just given Europe and the world an education in their callous disregard for democracy, national sovereignty, and even humanity.

  147. Andy Newman: Their strategy seemed to be that they could persuade the Troika of the economic and political widom of their position through the power of rational argument. and they had no plan B.

    The Plan B, in the form of Grexit, would be catastrophe, for reasons which by now should be well known.

    Greece is an economy reliant on imports – everything from food to medicines – and is already starting to suffer shortages of both. How is a tiny nation of 11 million people with a low productive base, no alternative sources of investment or emergency bailout funds waiting in the wings, expected to take on the forces of global capital and win. We are talking societal collapse, with all the ugly centrifugal political forces that exist in Greece making the prospect of a full blown civil conflict guaranteed.

    Alex Andreou in his latest column writes: The idea of Tsipras as a “traitor” relies heavily on a cynical misinterpretation of the referendum last week. “OXI”, the critics would have you believe, was “no” to any sort of deal; an authorisation to disorderly Grexit. It was nothing of the sort. In speech after speech Tsipras said again and again that he needed a strong “OXI” to use as a negotiating weapon in order to achieve a better deal. Did you all miss that? Now, you may think he didn’t achieve a better deal – that may be fair – but to suggest it authorised Grexit is deeply disingenuous. And what about the 38% that voted “NAI”? Was Tsipras not there representing those people, too?

    https://www.byline.com/column/11/article/164

  148. Sam64 on said:

    John,

    ‘The Plan B, in the form of Grexit, would be catastrophe, for reasons which by now should be well known’.

    The extended interview with Yanis Varoufakis in NSS linked above, indicates that there were extensive discussions about the viability of GREXIT within Syriza since January – he doesn’t say that the conclusion was that it just wasn’t considered viable. It seems he resigned because his alternative of going back to Brussels and asking for more was rejected by the government inner cabinet. Only from what I can see, his wasn’t so much a plan B, more a plan Ai – really a tactic designed to regain some financial autonomy, rather than leave the Euro altogether.

  149. John on said:

    Sam64: he doesn’t say that the conclusion was that it just wasn’t considered viable. I

    If so, Sam, it contradicts the views he expressed in his recent Guardian article, from which I quoted earlier.

    My big question remains what if any attempts were made to explore alternative sources of bailout from BRIC?

    But as Andreou reminds us in his column, Tsipras at no time had a mandate for Grexit. The referendum was a mandate for further negotiations not Grexit.

  150. Sam64 on said:

    John,

    Well, I read the Saturday Guardian article and linked it here. I’m not sure if what he’s said in the NSS interview (see the full Q&A) really contradicts the line that GREXIT just wasn’t an option. Certainly Yanis gives a fuller explanation, certainly worth reading. More generally, I dislike TINA, especially when its the kind of rational of the odious finance ministers that Yanis depicts in the interview.

    But on mandates, legalities of GREXIT and EU, check this on protocol at the EU. And don’t forget that most of these twats will have had expensive and extensive training in, basically, EU rules, procedures, precedents, given policies etc:

    ‘Days before Varoufakis’s resignation on 6 July, when Tsipras called the referendum on the Eurogroup’s belated and effectively unchanged offer, the Eurogroup issued a communiqué without Greek consent. This was against Eurozone convention. The move was quietly criticised by some in the press before being overshadowed by the build-up to the referendum, but Varoufakis considered it pivotal.

    WhenJeroen Dijsselbloem, the European Council President, tried to issue the communiqué without him, Varoufakis consulted Eurogroup clerks – could Dijsselbloem exclude a member state? The meeting was briefly halted. After a handful of calls, a lawyer turned to him and said, “Well, the Eurogroup does not exist in law, there is no treaty which has convened this group.”

    “So,” Varoufakis said, “What we have is a non-existent group that has the greatest power to determine the lives of Europeans. It’s not answerable to anyone, given it doesn’t exist in law; no minutes are kept; and it’s confidential. No citizen ever knows what is said within . . . These are decisions of almost life and death, and no member has to answer to anybody.”

  151. Karl Stewart on said:

    John: But as Andreou reminds us in his column, Tsipras at no time had a mandate for Grexit. The referendum was a mandate for further negotiations not Grexit.

    The referendum certainly wasn’t a mandate to go and negotiate an even worse deal though was it?

    A more honourable course would have been to go back to the Greek people and give them the choice of accepting this even worse deal or leaving the euro.

  152. John on said:

    Karl Stewart: A more honourable course would have been to go back to the Greek people and give them the choice of accepting this even worse deal or leaving the euro.

    This makes sense, Karl, but again the country was facing a full blown humanitarian crisis with the banks closed for over a week and shortages of food and medicine taking place. Returning to the country and organising another referendum would have taken time and Greece is clearly a country for which time is short.

    Perhaps he misunderstood his mandate and took too much upon himself. If so, this will become evident in the coming days.

  153. John: How is a tiny nation of 11 million people with a low productive base, no alternative sources of investment or emergency bailout funds waiting in the wings, expected to take on the forces of global capital and win.

    Reminiscent of the fate of Jamaica, when Michael Manley also sought to defy the IMF, and found no international allies.

    The story and disastrous aftermath well told in the documentary film, “Life and Debt”

  154. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Of course that’s totally true, it was indeed imposed at economic gunpoint.

    However, my comment was a response to the quote from Alex Andreou’s point about what mandate was given by the referendum.

  155. Calvin on said:

    John,

    Perhaps Syriza may not lead the struggle going forward, but they had absolutely zero alternative that was not worse given the cards they’d been dealt.

    They also get to play their cards.

    I am sympathetic to Tsipras’ dilemma but signing this, well, Carthaginian surrender, may yet prove to be the worst alternative of all. There must now be a significant possibility that Syriza disintegrates whilst trying to manage another impossible contradiction: simultaneously enabling and opposing ultra-austerity and the destruction of Greek sovereignty.

    Inevitably, opposition to the Troika will continue and no doubt Golden Dawn is preparing to seize the mantle of anti-austerity and patriotism, with Syriza appearing to have little in its arsenal to counter this threat. They could, I suppose, call an early election. But they’d have to dream up a new slogan, cos ‘End austerity and stay in the Euro’ is past its sell by date.

  156. Noah on said:

    John: Greece is an economy reliant on imports – everything from food to medicines – and is already starting to suffer shortages of both.

    Actually when both goods and services are included, exports and imports are roughly similar in value, each accounting for around 30% of Greece’s GDP.

  157. John on said:

    Calvin: am sympathetic to Tsipras’ dilemma but signing this, well, Carthaginian surrender, may yet prove to be the worst alternative of all.

    Worse than food and medicine shortages? Worse than the banks remaining closed and the country descending into an abyss?

    I haven’t heard any real viable alternative that makes economic sense. I have heard keep fighting, struggling, and so on, but it seems increasingly to me about fighting for the sake of it. If there was a serious European anti austerity movement worthy of the name, I could definitely make a case for continued struggle. I’m talking here about major riots in Germany in solidarity with the Greeks, also in France, of a kind capable of striking fear into the hearts of the political elites in both countries.

    There are none, and none appear likely anytime soon. It will be interesting see what Varoufakis does now. Could he spearhead an attempt to take over from Tsipras?

    As for the KKE, for me they still appear like spectators at the Coliseum watching events unfold while waiting…for what? What is their level of support? Who do they lead? All the analysis in the world is no substitute for action.

    I say this mindful of the fact they may well be engaging now. I just haven’t seen any evidence yet.

  158. Noah on said:

    Francis King: But SYRIZA was not elected on a blood, sweat and tears programme – it was elected on an anti-austerity programme.

    The illusory nature of what Syriza promised in order to get elected was evident at the time to anyone with a grasp of what capitalism, imperialism and the EU are about. Of course, those who succumbed to that illusion will give no thanks to those who tried to point it out to them.

  159. John on said:

    Noah: Actually when both goods and services are included, exports and imports are roughly similar in value, each accounting for around 30% of Greece’s GDP.

    Noah, its reliance on imports does not mean it has no export trade but that its domestic economy and export economy are both reliant on what it imports – i.e. pharmaceuticals, food, energy. It has a very low productive base, with most of its exports consisting of commodities that require imports to produce – i.e petreleum products – and services such as merchant shipping, a sector from which the govt notoriously receives very little in taxation. It is therefore a prisoner of the euro, given that if the Drachma was re-introduced it would spike the cost of imports and provide very little advantage due to the nature of Greek exports.

  160. Noah on said:

    John: Worse than food and medicine shortages?

    Cuba manages to ensure nobody starves, and that everyone who needs it has access to the best medicines- on far, far less resources per person than Greece would have even in a worst scenario for Grexit. Perhaps Syriza could ask them for some advice.

  161. Vanya on said:

    #186 Greece does in fact have a fairly advanced pharmaceutical industry.

    I’m here again by the way, and the meal I just ate comprised almost 100%
    of food produced in Greece.

  162. John on said:

    Noah: Cuba manages to ensure nobody starves, and that everyone who needs it has access to the best medicines- on far, far less resources per person than Greece would have even in a worst scenario for Grexit. Perhaps Syriza could ask them for some advice.

    Cuba is a socialist country, Greece is not. In Greece there are ugly political centrifugal forces. The far right is a factor, as is the mainstream right, both of which could well converge in a time of societal crisis. Then there’s the military.

    You cannot realistically compare Greece in 2015 to Cuba.

  163. Noah: those who succumbed to that illusion will give no thanks to those who tried to point it out to them.

    Thanks are neither here nor there. Do you think that many of those SYRIZA voters disillusioned with the outcome are going to switch their support to the KKE?

  164. Noah on said:

    John: It is therefore a prisoner of the euro, given that if the Drachma was re-introduced it would spike the cost of imports and provide very little advantage due to the nature of Greek exports.

    OK. Where raw materials are imported, processed and the product exported (as in the case of, eg, petroleum related industries) the value of the raw material component of the product stays the same. So whether ones national currency is comparatively high or low is a neutral factor in terms of national income from this part of the process. Devaluation neither helps nor hinders.

    Where devaluation would help is in terms of the part of the international price of the product which reflects the added value generated due to the processing. The new value and surplus value are created in the processing, and this is of course the whole point of the exercise of imports, processing and exports (except for purely or mainly speculative activities).

    The fact that the base material is sourced from abroad makes no difference to the gains from this which would accrue from devaluation.

    There is also a fair bit of overlap between what Greece imports and exports (as Vanya points out) so devaluation would result in import substitution- thus also increasing employment,

    Shipping may well be not affected one way or the other. But anyway, none of this shows that Greece has to stay in the euro.

    An important point is that the ‘debt’ is just unpayable. Syriza having agreed to make the Greeks pay it pay it does not make it actually payable- what will happen is that what’s left of the Greek economy will be further destroyed and people further impoverished and humiliated to the point of utter despair and desperation. And the mass privatisation will obviously make it very much harder for any future Greek government to do anything but continue as enforcers for the German oppressors & the Troika.

    And the people won’t turn to the ‘left’ because it’s the ‘left’ who are acting as the enforcers for austerity. Who will they turn to?

    The ‘debt’ has to be repudiated and that just can’t be done within the euro.

  165. Francis King: Do you think that many of those SYRIZA voters disillusioned with the outcome are going to switch their support to the KKE?

    No. That’s exactly my point.

  166. John: You cannot realistically compare Greece in 2015 to Cuba.

    Nevertheless there are areas where the Cubans are experts, and their advice and co-operation could be particularly useful. Ensuring access to medicine & wider healthcare under severe economic strictures is one of them.

  167. Noah: Where raw materials are imported, processed and the product exported (as in the case of, eg, petroleum related industries) the value of the raw material component of the product stays the same.

    Noah, where the currency is devalued the price of imports is correspondingly higher. The only economic benefit is in that it makes exports correspondingly more competitive, but that requires either a) a healthy and diverse export economy, or b) the potential to develop one.

    Greece at present does not have a) and may have b) due to renewable energy reserves, particularly solar power. The country has made strides here but it is still a developing market and would require more time to have a significant impact on the Greek economy.

    Cuba as an alternative? How long would this take? Problems with existing markets, contracts, so forth?

    You countenance Greece breaking with neoliberal order. Okay, but there will be consequences, involving it being placed under siege by said order. In order to achieve this Greece as a society would need to be fully mobilised, as Cuba was under the Special Period. The difference is that a mass socialist consciousness was already a feature of Cuban society, culture, institutions, education. This is not the case in Greece.

    Do you think Greece is now entering a revolutionary period?

  168. John: a mass socialist consciousness was already a feature of Cuban society, culture, institutions, education.

    That was created in struggle. And the decisions of the Greek government will of course have political, social, ideological consequences, not just economic ones.

  169. John:
    As for the KKE, for me they still appear like spectators at the Coliseum watching events unfold while waiting…for what? What is their level of support? Who do they lead? All the analysis in the world is no substitute for action.

    I say this mindful of the fact they may well be engaging now. I just haven’t seen any evidence yet.

    You could at least try looking for “evidence”. In the modern world, there are tools like Google, translation tools even. Nobody can help you if you don’t try. The text quoted above is exactly the attitude of a “spectator at the Coliseum”. He is just sitting there going, “God, it should have started one minute ago already, where is the action? Why isn’t there more food and beverages? What kind of sport is going on here anyway? Why aren’t the organisers giving me information leaflets for free and in my language? Wait, I know, I’ll just leave right now and write a scathing article in the local newspaper about how the Coliseum is an overrated tourist trap not worth the bother.”

  170. John Grimshaw on said:

    John: Cuba is a socialist country, Greece is not. In Greece there are ugly political centrifugal forces. The far right is a factor, as is the mainstream right, both of which could well converge in a time of societal crisis. Then there’s the military.

    Personally John I would debate with you whether Cuba is exactly a “socialist” country however it is far better than many of the options available under mainstream capitalism. I agree with the rest of what you say above however. Greece is one of Europe’s most class divided countries. It has a sizeable parasitic ruling class who are largely unaffected by the crisis, often are based outside of the country and have spent years paying no tax and being mired in corruption. The military is prone to independence from the elected government and fascistic tendencies. The police, especially in Athens, are known for their fascistic and anti-immigrant views. I saw the police up close in Athens three years ago and it was not pleasant. Riding round on motorbikes two to a machine, obviously tooled up, deliberately targeting Bangladeshis in the flee market. In order for Greece to come near to the Cuba model then the working class would have to defeat and take control of the military as well as expropriating the wealth of these rich classes.

    That being said even within the context of capitalism doing something about these elites would be better than nothing. Essentially the Troika require Tsipras to target the poor and the lower middle classes (Syriza’s base). They make no mention of coming down hard on the elites and preventing them from taking money abroad. That is something that the Syriza government should’ve been doing some time ago.

    There is a new elite tower block to be built in Canary Wharf (complete 2019) in the near future (featured front page yesterday’s Guardian) called Maine Tower. It will have no social housing and it’s own library, swimming pool and facilities so you don’t have to mix with the plebs. More than 200 apartments worth over £140 million were sold in 4 hours. They haven’t even sold the pent houses yet. Apart from the now well excepted notion that London is rapidly becoming a whore to the world’s rich peruse down the list of buyers. “…- half the properties were sold to overseas buyers…Chinese buyers are turning to overseas property as a safe haven for their (our?) money following a slump in the countries stock markets, and fifty properties were snapped up in Hong Kong…There were a number of Greek buyersas well as other European investors and some from India and the Far East.” Now I wonder which Greeks these were?

  171. John Grimshaw on said:

    http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/14/imf-report-greece-needs-more-debt-relief

    In summary as far as I can see the IMF is saying quite clearly that Greece needs far more debt relief than the other Europeans are willing to condone. The current situation is unsustainable and the IMF is not allowed to lend more to countries with unsustainable debt. The “deal” that Tsipras has been brow beaten into accepting is not going to work. In these circumstances whatever the consequences surely default is the only option left?

  172. No to EU on said:

    John: Noah, where the currency is devalued the price of imports is correspondingly higher. The only economic benefit is in that it makes exports correspondingly more competitive, but that requires either a) a healthy and diverse export economy, or b) the potential to develop one.

    While this is true in many cases it is not so in Greece which is strong in tourism and shipping so she can survive devaluation to some degree

  173. John: Do you think Greece is now entering a revolutionary period?

    Not yet.
    “The KKE calls on the workers, employees, poor popular strata, pensioners, unemployed and youth, to say a real, unyielding, big NO to the agreement-memorandum, which was signed by the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition government with the EU-ECB-IMF and to fight against the savage measures included in it on the streets and in the workplaces. These measures will be added to the barbaric measures of the previous memoranda. They must organize their counterattack so that the people are not driven to complete bankruptcy. They must strengthen the labour movement, the people’s alliance, so that they can pave the way for the people to be liberated once and for all from the power of capital and the imperialist unions that are leading them to even more barbaric conditions.”

    https://21centurymanifesto.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/kke-on-the-new-memorandum/

  174. John on said:

    The more I consider the role of Alexis Tsipras in this crisis the more I am reminded of Michael Collins. Collins was told by the British government in 1922 to either accept the Treaty, involving partition, or face total war.

    When he returned to Ireland to try and sell the deal to his comrades the result was civil war and Collins’ own death. Question is who is Greece’s De Valera – Varoufakis?

  175. Karl Stewart on said:

    Let’s get some perspective here. Michael Collins took part in the 1916 Easter Rising, was arrested, imprisoned and narrowly avoided the death penalty, after his release, he organised and led the armed struggle for Irish independence.

    Alexander Kerensky joined the illegal underground revolutionary movement against Tsarism, was imprisoned after the failed 1905 revolution and then played a leading role in the February 1917 revolution, distributed arms to workers to resist the attempted Kornilov coup.

    Whatever faults these two men had, they were both brave, fought hard, and were imprisoned for their activities.

    And Tsipras??? Well, he was apparently something of a university student radical when he was younger, then joined a movement that broke away from the Greek Communist Party, promised voters that he represented a ‘new politics’ and pledged to end austerity painlessly, then when he got elected, he went back on all his promises as soon as things got tough.

    Reminds me more of Nick Clegg.

  176. John on said:

    Karl Stewart: And Tsipras??? Well, he was apparently something of a university student radical when he was younger, then joined a movement that broke away from the Greek Communist Party, promised voters that he represented a ‘new politics’ and pledged to end austerity painlessly, then when he got elected, he went back on all his promises as soon as things got tough.

    I would say it takes a special kind of courage to be on the receiving end of the wrath of Karl Stewart and remain standing. 🙂

    I find Tsipras more of a sympathetic figure than most on here, it is clear. He hasn’t surrendered or sold out, he has been bludgeoned into accepting a condign punishment for daring to arrive in Brussels armed only with a democratic mandate.

    In the immortal words of Sean Connery: “Isn’t that just like a ‘student radical’? Brings a knife to a gunfight.”

  177. John on said:

    Btw I will be in London on Monday night to speak on this crisis at Bolivar Hall, alongside George Galloway and Max Keiser.

    Be there or die.

  178. nattyfoc on said:

    John:
    Btw I will be in London on Monday night to speak on this crisis at Bolivar Hall, alongside George Galloway and Max Keiser.

    Be there or die.

    John WHO ??

  179. Karl Stewart on said:

    nattyfoc,

    The author of the above article. Not as famous as Mr “Nattyfoc” I admit, but he writes regularly for the UK’s best newspaper the Morning Star.

  180. lone nut on said:

    Although the analogy might not appeal to all here, the US commentator Billmon suggests a historic parallel between Tsipras and Alexander Dubcek – who naively believed that so long as he affirmed his loyalty to the Warsaw Pact his Czech reforms would be seen as a merely internal matter. It’s also worth listening to this discussion between FT pundits Gideon Rachman and Wolfgang Munchau at http://podcast.ft.com/p/2852 – Rachman, perhaps being a little provocative, sees the deal as a defeat for Germany.

  181. nattyfoc on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    nattyfoc,

    The author of the above article. Not as famous as Mr “Nattyfoc” I admit, but he writes regularly for the UK’s best newspaper the Morning Star.

    Best newspaper probably …………………..not that there’s much competition!

    So who is he ???

  182. nattyfoc on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    Let’s get some perspective here. Michael Collins took part in the 1916 Easter Rising, was arrested, imprisoned and narrowly avoided the death penalty, after his release, he organised and led the armed struggle for Irish independence.

    Alexander Kerensky joined the illegal underground revolutionary movement against Tsarism, was imprisoned after the failed 1905 revolution and then played a leading role in the February 1917 revolution, distributed arms to workers to resist the attempted Kornilov coup.

    Whatever faults these two men had, they were both brave, fought hard, and were imprisoned for their activities.

    And Tsipras??? Well, he was apparently something of a university student radical when he was younger, then joined a movement that broke away from the Greek Communist Party, promised voters that he represented a ‘new politics’ and pledged to end austerity painlessly, then when he got elected, he went back on all his promises as soon as things got tough.

    Reminds me more of Nick Clegg.

    Michael Collins the Irish traitor ……he got his comuppance flaming Quisling ……….try listening to the Song” Take it down from the mast Irish Traitor ” Dominic Behan did a good version !

  183. Vanya on said:

    #214 Yes, as we all know the best way to anylise the complexities of Irish republican and left politics is to get pissed in North London and listen to rebel songs.

    Sorry, even better- do it in Boston or New York.

  184. John Grimshaw on said:

    The vote was 229 for the austerity measures and 64 against. 40 of the against were Syriza law makers including Varoufakis. There were six abstentions. 124 yes votes were Syriza which means Tsipras succeeded with the support of Pasok and ND. Tsipras will now get an extremely rough ride and it will be interesting to see whether he survives.

  185. John on said:

    John Grimshaw: Tsipras will now get an extremely rough ride and it will be interesting to see whether he survives.

    Not only Tsipras but also Merkel. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/15/radical-left-protests-across-germany-over-bailout-deal-coup-against-greeks

    Tsipras has undoubtedly won the moral argument. Merkel and Germany may have just earned themselves the enmity of not only the radical left but also a growing section of the establishment for going too far. When even the IMF judges these bailout terms as too harsh we know the issue has moved beyond economics to one of outright retribution.

  186. jim mclean on said:

    nattyfoc,

    “I may have signed my actual death warrant”
    To knowingly accept death shows Collins was not a coward though, compromise has its price, and he was willing to accept it. As a great admirer of Behan as a wordsmith he never had an answer for the million Ulster Scots who have been on the island for half a millenium.

  187. John: Tsipras has undoubtedly won the moral argument. Merkel and Germany may have just earned themselves the enmity of

    John: Not only Tsipras but also Merkel. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/15/radical-left-protests-across-germany-over-bailout-deal-coup-against-greeks

    Tsipras has undoubtedly won the moral argument. Merkel and Germany may have just earned themselves the enmity of not only the radical left but also a growing section of the establishment for going too far. When even the IMF judges these bailout terms as too harsh we know the issue has moved beyond economics to one of outright retribution.

    not only the radical left but also a growing section of the establishment for going too far. When even the IMF judges these bailout terms as too harsh we know the issue has moved beyond economics to one of outright retribution.

    Anger at the role of Germany in imposing destitution on the Greek people is one thing but to transmute this into opposition to German attempts to enforce a Grexit makes a mockery of any attempt to understand the role of inter-imperialist contradictions in this drama.

    We should wonder why the IMF –fronted as always by a European but, as always the instrument of US policy – should attempt to divert a course of (German) action that would fray the edges of the political, military and economic entities that butress US strategic interests in our continent.
    Unless we seek an explanation in a generosity of spirit that can be found in heart of Obama (the drone bomber) it lies in baser motives.

    Key sections of German capital favour a foreign policy somewhat distinct from the US (and its most loyal local proxy Britain) with a more coherent and federal EU. The US, whilst generally in favour of European economic integration is wary of the EU developing a stronger political and/or military and foreign policy identity.

  188. John on said:

    Nick Wright: Key sections of German capital favour a foreign policy somewhat distinct from the US (and its most loyal local proxy Britain) with a more coherent and federal EU. The US, whilst generally in favour of European economic integration is wary of the EU developing a stronger political and/or military and foreign policy identity.

    Agree, this is why the US has been eager to see EU expansion to Eastern Europe with the objective of diluting German power and has been key in maintaining a prominent global role for NATO, which it leads.

    But any such inter-imperialist rivalry opens up space for a counter hegemonic movement to occupy. Alas, no such movement currently exists. I believe the treatment of Greece may well help in building one.

  189. Sam64 on said:

    A few interesting points here. from old Tariq Ali.

    I see Tsipras has purged his cabinet of left wingers. I have to say as somebody who spent a while on the Trotskyite left and sure as hell isn’t going back there, has thought about joining a social democrat type party – Labour, I see there’s a TV leadership debate on now, on a scale of 1-10 irritating, Liz Kendal is doing a Spinal Tap – but just can’t bring myself to, but was very much hearted by Syriza in Greece and had looked to it as possible new left model, it’s been a sobering old week.

  190. John Grimshaw on said:

    Sam64,

    I think the problem Sam 69 is that Syriza (unlike the KKE) is a pretty mixed bunch. Tsipras as is after all a relatively privileged ex student activist and Euro-communist. Others are much more left wing. The danger was always going to be that in the face of a serious crisis these constituent parts would start to fall apart. If I were on the left minority in Syriza I would give serious thought to splitting as to simply keep quiet and acquiesce is much more dangerous and cowardly. There is a rumour that left law makers are trying to get a petition together calling on Tsipras to resign but what truth there is in this I don’t know.

  191. John Grimshaw: There is a rumour that left law makers are trying to get a petition together calling on Tsipras to resign but what truth there is in this I don’t know.

    I’m not there, in Greece, so any opinion must be viewed in that context. But with liquidity returning to the banks today, and with no mass – and I mean mass – demonstrations and strikes in opposition to Tsipras taking place up to this point, I think he may well survive and indeed that the line he took is in accordance with the views of the majority of a country that is by now desperate to regain some semblance of normality and stability.

    Tsipras, again, is not the enemy. He is the prime minister of a small, southern European country that has found itself on the precipice of a full blown humanitarian crisis. To place the responsibility on his shoulders of facing down and defeating global capital is unconscionable to me.

  192. Sam64 on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    ‘Tsipras as is after all a relatively privileged ex student activist and Euro-communist’.

    Yes, in a debate I linked above, Stathis Kouvelakis – a London academic who I think is a member of Syriza, sort of rep in the UK, I’d imagine left faction – makes the point that it is best not to indulge in the usual left knee jerk response to defeat of branding leaders traitors who’ve committed betrayal. I know you don’t say this directly, but I think it’s boring and destructive. And further to that, something you do imply, I don’t think pointing to the privileged background of the personnel involved, i.e.Tsipras , is particularly useful. I don’t know that much about the backgrounds and motivation of the people of the Syriza leadership, but I don’t think they got involved with the party primarily for personal ambition and/or a sense of class entitlement – and thought little therefore of ‘selling out’. The party does appear different in that respect.

    As it happens, the former finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, is from a bourgeois background and is a bit of globe trotting academic. Tariq Ali makes the point above, that he had the ego not to kowtow to EU ministers, to look them in the eye and point out the futility of austerity, something that enraged them – though as he’s said, he might as well have been singing the Swedish national anthem for all the response he got. Having said all of this, there is a ‘technocrat’ aspect to Syriza, people who reject austerity but above all want to modernise the Greek economy, as represented Euclid Tsakalotos, the Oxford educated prof who replace Varoufakis.

    As for where we are now (John), yes, the banks have (partially) reopened, more loans having liquiditified them, but the outlook for the Greek people (bar the elite) is pretty grim. Meanwhile, opinion of all political persuasion is suggesting that GREXIT would have been the better option.

  193. Sam64: Meanwhile, opinion of all political persuasion is suggesting that GREXIT would have been the better option.

    Sure, I’m sure this may be the consensus emerging now, but the NO vote in the referendum was not a mandate for Grexit. It was a clear mandate for a rejection of the bailout terms on offer at the time while remaining in the euro. Perhaps a contradictory position but Grexit would be no walk in the park either, involving a sharp depreciation of the drachma leading to hyper inflation and inevitable social unrest.

  194. Pingback: British support for Greek people | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  195. Sam64 on said:

    John,

    I think the Greek government could have reasonably argued that they were being forced out of the Euro given the, ever more draconian, terms put to them. Moreover, the EU was quite prepared to see GREXIT – it was actually there in the official communiques. And it’s quite clear from what various EU figures (not just Germans) have been saying over the last few days that this was primarily a political decision, designed to make an example out of Greece for its radical defiance.

    I’ve said before, GREXIT may have involved socio-economic Armaggedon. I’m in no position to judge and make such calls given that context. However, Greece is now almost certainly locked into both IMF administered austerity and economic contraction for at least a decade, whilst much of a younger generation seek to leave, through the EU bailout terms. In such circumstances, considerations of GREXIT have to be real. As it happens, Yanis Varoufakis thinks that the ‘reforms’ will fail – and therefore, presumably, we’ll be back to where we were a week/10 days ago – history occurs twice, the first time etc… One can only hope that in the meantime, Golden Dawn aren’t the beneficiaries of the disillusion there must be on the Greek left and more generally.

  196. wwsd on said:

    John:

    Tsipras, again, is not the enemy. He is the prime minister of a small, southern European country that has found itself on the precipice of a full blown humanitarian crisis. To place the responsibility on his shoulders of facing down and defeating global capital is unconscionable to me.

    What does “small country” mean in this instance? The rhetoric of small, decent countries steamrolled by global capital is just empty emotion when applied to a committed EU and NATO state like Greece. By the same token, Israel is a small Middle Eastern country that used to face an existential threat, so maybe we should praise them for bombing their enemies into the stone age, building a wall around them, and making a stockpile of nukes? Or what about the small, Caucasian country of Georgia that tried to stick up to the evil Russkies? Kuwait? Kosovo? Somoza’s Nicaragua… All small countries trying to make their way in this big, cruel world. 🙁 I am posting this from the Netherlands, where “small-country” patriotism shows up at times. And yet “our little country, conquered from the sea” is one of the main allies of Germany in its policies towards Greece, we are the country that brought you Mr Dijsselbloem (a “socialist”, of course), and so on. So let’s have no more of “small countries”.

    The fact is that Greece, big or small, has its own particular position within the imperialist pyramid. The Greek state, whether it is in the hands of ND, PASOK, SYRIZA, or an unelected technocrat like Papademos, is beholden to capital until proven otherwise. Of course not all sections of capital are made equal, or at least capital does not freely and fairly divide its “benefits” over the world. Of course a country like Greece will have less weight to throw around, and will get shafted more often and more easily than a country like Germany. But the basic fact remains true. Greece “stood up” not to “global capital” but to certain sections of it (at the behest of other, competing ones), before backing down again and allowing itself to be placed under direct administration by these same people, with a “radical leftist” seal of approval. But who do you suppose got Greece into this situation in the first place? Do you suppose the evil international bankers cozened the conscientious, decent Greek national bourgeoisie into the Eurozone? As if this was not a class issue, as if nobody in Greece got rich from all this, as if this was not facilitated by numerous democratically elected governments. So much for the value of “democracy” in the abstract, “democracy” not backed up by a class-conscious mass movement, for those who are still snivelling about that referendum.

    Of course Tsipras is not the enemy; he’s just a relatively minor figure in a long list of stooges of the enemy. Why anyone on the international left held him to be anything more will be an interesting mystery to unravel in the future.

    Sam64:
    John Grimshaw,

    ‘Tsipras as is after all a relatively privileged ex student activist and Euro-communist’.

    Yes, in a debate I linked above, Stathis Kouvelakis – a London academic who I think is a member of Syriza, sort of rep in the UK, I’d imagine left faction – makes the point that it is best not to indulge in the usual left knee jerk response to defeat of branding leaders traitors who’ve committed betrayal.I know you don’t say this directly, but I think it’s boring and destructive. And further to that, something you do imply, I don’t think pointing to the privileged background of the personnel involved, i.e.Tsipras , is particularly useful.I don’t know that much about the backgrounds and motivation of the people of the Syriza leadership, but I don’t think they got involved with the party primarily for personal ambition and/or a sense of class entitlement – and thought little therefore of ‘selling out’.The party does appear different in that respect.

    Well, it seems to me that committing betrayals is at least part of the core business of a traitor. It is hard to think of a traitor who has never betrayed anyone, or someone who has committed betrayals, yet not a traitor.

    But dictionary definitions aside, there is a point here in that it’s ridiculous how many leftists worldwide, online and offline, are acting like cheated spouses over the recent events. The whole exercise of SYRIZA’s rise to power was about preventing a confrontation and rupture, about being the better negotiators, about saving capitalism in a “leftist” and “patriotic” way. SYRIZA said as much themselves, yet apparently they had to actually do it first to wake up the leftists, and even now some people are probably still telling themselves that this is the latest genius move by Tsipras, master game theorist.

    But the histrionic response that “He betrayed us!” (as if only the faith of leftists outside of Greece was at stake) is silly. What was betrayed except for people’s own false hopes that were repeatedly contradicted by everyone in SYRIZA except its leftist minority, who seem to find a more receptive audience outside of their country than they do in it? I remember at the time of the election, there was this article in Vice about how at some point almost all leading lights of the British left were in Greece, not for revolutionary tourism, but electoral tourism (one of them actually compared it to the Spanish Civil War, which no amount of satire can improve). Of course, their motivations are their own, and I’m sure they were motivated by genuine solidarity, but the fact is that when you make a move like that, it’s impossible to avoid becoming emotionally attached to and identified with SYRIZA as a political project. It pretty much precludes you from taking an independent and critical position. When you only talk to SYRIZA members and supporters, and you join in the party atmosphere, the question of “What are they actually going to do?” tends to slip into the background, which is only human, but perhaps a bit unfortunate if you happen to be a Morning Star reporter or a Guardian columnist, and you’re supposed to be doing some actual journalism in-between getting drunk on ouzo and success and doing embarrassing renditions of Zorba’s Dance with your comrades. The actual job (of being a journalist, a leftist, or both) involves a bit less dancing and a bit more asking questions that start with “What?” or “How?” If that is forgotten, a hangover like Memorandum-3 can hit you harder than you expected.

    What’s worse about the “betrayed” response, however, is that it doesn’t teach us anything. Some of the people who felt betrayed are probably already dipping their pens into a well of pink ink (if you squint really hard, it might appear as red) in preparation for the big Jacobin/MR/ISJ/CounterPunch/NLR/whatever article on how the Left Platform of SYRIZA, the Trotskyist platform of SYRIZA, the Maoist platform of SYRIZA, and/or ANTARSYA are the all-singing, all-dancing solution to all of Greece’s woes, and they will eventually be joined by the remaining apologists: “Well, OK, so perhaps Memorandum-3 isn’t very nice, but we can still turn this thing around if we all join in for one last chorus of mindless solidarity with Greece!” And hey, why not? If the radical elements of SYRIZA do some day find the balls to split and join up with ANTARSYA, it will probably be another generation before they actually get enough seats in an election to participate in a government, let alone lead it. We can have another 10-20 years of pimping them as the new best thing, taking lectures and interviews from their CC members (who will always be very erudite UK-based university teachers), all the while continuing to heap scorn on the Communist Party for not immediately submitting to their leadership with no strings attached. If history does repeat itself as a farce, there should at least be something to laugh at!

  197. John Grimshaw on said:

    http://uk.businessinsider.com/why-greeces-military-budget-is-so-high-2015-6?r=US&IR=T

    As you can see from the link above Greece might be a small country but it also has one of the highest defence spending of any country in NATO per capita. Greece has recently spent vast sums of money on armaments chiefly on French and German products. Not to forget the American jets that they’re always arresting plane spotter/Turkish spies for looking at. They have 1300 tanks which is double the number the Brits have apparently. Despite financial crisis and the presence of the Syriza government it has recently conducted extensive military manoeuvres with the Israeli Defence Force. Now I don’t know about you but this doesn’t sound like a country with a knowingly duped establishment. Rather one that is as militaristic as its “allies” despite that it could never afford most of this weaponry.

  198. John on said:

    John Grimshaw: As you can see from the link above Greece might be a small country but it also has one of the highest defence spending of any country in NATO per capita.

    I don’t think the people who voted for Syriza were much concerned with Greece’s support for NATO or even its relations with Israel. I think the vast majority had more pressing issues on their minds – such as how to arrest their country’s descent into pauperism. Syriza’s programme was focused on that.

    The country’s over-inflated spending on defence was the policy of earlier govts, which astonishingly were signing off on huge contracts with French and German defence contractors and manufacturers after the crisis hit in 2010, deal that were underwritten with EU bailout money.

  199. John Grimshaw on said:

    John,

    I wonder if you’re being disingenuous John? I think it doesn’t matter if Greece is a relatively small country that’s still not an excuse for Tsipras and his majority in Syriza to effectively backtrack on everything they had previously stood for. My point was that a country that spends this much on fireworks with more tanks than Blighty obviously doesn’t see itself as small. Or at least its ruling group doesn’t. By the way Iceland is a much smaller country, had a crash, but seems to be doing alright digging its way out of it. Tsipras and co conceded more the second time round than they would’ve had to the first time round. And then went on to purge their left opposition it’s.

  200. John Grimshaw on said:

    John: Sure, I’m sure this may be the consensus emerging now, but the NO vote in the referendum was not a mandate for Grexit. It was a clear mandate for a rejection of the bailout terms on offer at the time while remaining in the euro. Perhaps a contradictory position but Grexit would be no walk in the park either, involving a sharp depreciation of the drachma leading to hyper inflation and inevitable social unrest.

    It’s true that the referendum was not a vote on Grexit. However, What does seem true is that Tsipras and co misused the referedum tactic. They underestimated the support the No vote would get. I suspect they wanted a narrow yes or no victory so they could have a free hand to negotiate a new deal without there being a clear steer from the people. The fact that there was such a large No victory put Tsipras in a difficult situation. The referendum only stiffened the resolve of the Germans and other northern countries to drive a hard bargain and as we have seen Tsipras with no Plan B had no cards to play so he capitulated. As I have suggested earlier perhaps the referendum should’ve been reworded to become a vote on staying in the Euro? Or perhaps there should’ve been a new GE which would’ve been in effect a vote on the Euro?

  201. jack ford on said:

    The secret of the financial crisis, the thing that nobody anywhere wants to talk about is this: if a country gets into a credit crisis, defaulting on its debts is the one option that consistently leads to recovery.

    That statement ought to be old hat by now. Russia defaulted on its debts in 1998, and that default marked the end of its post-Soviet economic crisis and the beginning of its current period of relative prosperity. Argentina defaulted on its debts in 2002, and the default put an end to its deep recession and set it on the road to recovery. Even more to the point, Iceland was the one European country that refused the EU demand that the debts of failed banks must be passed on to governments; instead, in 2008, the Icelandic government allowed the country’s three biggest banks to fold, paid off Icelandic depositors by way of the existing deposit insurance scheme, and left foreign investors twisting in the wind. Since that time, Iceland has been the only European country to see a sustained recovery.

    When Greece defaults on its debts and leaves the Euro, in turn, there will be a bit of scrambling, and then the Greek recovery will begin. That’s the reason the EU has been trying so frantically to keep Greece from defaulting, no matter how many Euros have to be shoveled down how many ratholes to prevent it. Once the Greek default happens, and it will, the other southern European nations that are crushed by excessive debt will line up to do the same. There will be a massive stock market crash, a great many banks will go broke, a lot of rich people and an even larger number of middle class people will lose a great deal of money, politicians will make an assortment of stern and defiant speeches, and then the great European financial crisis will be over and people can get on with their lives.

  202. John Grimshaw on said:

    John,

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that Grexit would’ve been easy John. Although there are different estimations of how savage the crisis would’ve been and whether it would’ve been significantly worse than the current situation. Also I know Greece fairly well and there are a lot of proud people for whom economic factors are not necessarily the most important ones. Many Greeks see Europe as their gift to the modern world and are reluctant to do anything that tarnishes this or suggests that their country is in some way inferior to others. Whilst commendable in many ways they do say pride comes before a fall. On the Plan B thing and Tsipras government surely no sensible government, whatever the likely cost, enters into a situation like they did without option So? It seems that Varoufakis had a plan and had tried to convince others, only for it to be rejected.

  203. Sam64 on said:

    jack ford,

    ‘When Greece defaults on its debts and leaves the Euro, in turn, there will be a bit of scrambling, and then the Greek recovery will begin’.

    English understatement at its most English. In fact, to say GREXIT would be tumultuous would be understatement. ‘Potentially catastrophic’ would perhaps be closer to the reality.

    ‘That’s the reason the EU has been trying so frantically to keep Greece from defaulting, no matter how many Euros have to be shoveled down how many ratholes to prevent it’.

    No, that’s not the case. The direct opposite is the case. Its clear from Yanis Varoufakis’s account, and he should know, that immediately after Syriza came to power in January, it was made quite clear by the principal EU player, Germany under Wolfgang Schäuble/Angela Merkel, that they were quite prepared to see GREXIT as a disciplining message to the rest of Europe to toe the austerity line or else – i.e. risk economic catastrophe. Other EU states, joined this let them default, go to hell, get the Greeks out line, during the crucial negotiations 3 weeks ago. It was there in the official statements, even though it had no legal basis.

    Having said this, given what’s transpired – IMF monitored austerity, far more draconian than anybody imagined – I agree that GREXIT should have been considered by Syrizia earlier. I see that Varoukakis is likely to be charged with treason – incredible as it sounds – in Greece for floating a parallel currency system (using IOUs for Es) as a prelude to GREXIT, the plan that was defeated by, I think, 6 votes to 2 by Syriza’s inner cabinet after the No vote, prompting his resignation.

  204. jack ford: and then the great European financial crisis will be over and people can get on with their lives.

    This sounds like an argument that capitalism can overcome its structural crises and that its replacement by a superior social system is unnecessary.

  205. wwsd on said:

    The controversy about Varoufakis is interesting. Of course, the man was a representative of the soft-imperialist line, and he was just as prepared to implement harsh anti-people measures (at least he wasn’t a hypocrite and he voted for the ones that were his ideas in the first place). Bankrupting the Greek people would not have been much better with the drachma as opposed to the euro. He certainly proved to be more erratic than Marxist.

    Still, you have to wonder about the possibility of prosecution, the strategic leaks to discredit him, and so on. Whatever his faults may be and whatever illusions he may hold, he had a better idea of who he was dealing with than most of SYRIZA’s cheerleaders in Europe did. It’s for this crime that they want to make an example of him: don’t challenge us, even within a parliamentary framework, and don’t even try to make contingency plans in case we decide to release you from our loving embrace, or you will go down for treason (!).

  206. john Grimshaw on said:

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/29/yanis-varoufakis-may-face-criminal-charges-over-greek-currency-plan

    I notice that some in Syriza think that it is time to give in completely to the Troika and get rid of those with any other views. Sounds like treachery to me! And the erratic Marxist isn’t really that radical. The other thing this article points out is that Varoufakis has “eminent” supporters such as economist Paul Klugmann who says he would have been irresponsible to not have considered a plan B.

  207. Aris Velouchiotis on said:

    This is a well intentioned piece but profoundly ignorant.

    To put a picture of Churchill illustrating a story about the defiance of the Greek people.

    You know nothing. Churchill is hated by the Greek left. The national liberation movement EAM nearly assassinated him. They were right. He ordered Scoby an the British army to open fire in the left. The British friends in Greece killed 28 civilians on a demonstration in December 1944.

    Please do act in solidarity. But keep your politics about Greece to yourself. It’s just embarrassing.