Wednesday, January 28, 2015

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Syriza: Greeks Grasp Nettle

Mick Hall argues that by electing Syriza the Greek people have grasped the neo liberal nettle by the throat and taken a punt on a future of hope and progress. Mick Hall is a veteran Marxist activist and trade unionist who blogs at Organized Rage.

  • By electing Syriza the Greek people have grasped the neo liberal nettle by the throat and taken a punt on a future of hope and progress.

Future generations deserve a glimpse of the bright sunny uplands in which they can build lives worth living

Politically the victory of Syriza ranks as one of the best days of my life, it stands alongside Mandela's release from prison, the fall of Saigon which brought an end to the Vietnam war and the victory of the Sandinista National Liberation Front in Nicaragua.

If anything the victory of Syriza is more important than these aforementioned historic events as it places in power within the EU a new left party which has the potential to halt the forward march of neoliberal capital.

History teaches radical politics cannot operate in a vacuum, or be restricted to borders, hence the Bolshevik experiment was bound to fail when Stalin confined it philosophically to socialism in one country. Radical socialist politics are internationalist or they are knowt.

Thus what happened in Greece on Sunday was the birth pangs of a new world order, whether it turns out to be a stillbirth history will judge, but what is unstoppable is the inspirational echo of Syriza's historic victory spreading across the western world.

 The question many are asking is why Greece, why Syriza, why Now?

The answer is clear firstly Greece is a small country with a long history of a corrupt oligarchy and political class whose greed and incompetence were bound to provoke a revolutionary upsurge if the catalysts were there to set it off. The economic crash of 2008 proved to be just that; true to form the Greek oligarchy with its control of the State chose to deal with it in their usual arrogant, ignorant and self interested way, thus a confrontation between them and the people was bound to explode.

The marvel of the last six years is despite much provocation from the political right, both parliamentary and extra parliamentary, it has not exploded into civil war, the traditional fallback position of the Greek ruling classes.

Credit for this is due to solely to the good sense of Syriza's leadership who have played the long game, confident they could win power by democratic means. On Sunday they were proven right. 

Indeed Syriza has charted a way forward for the European new left to follow, Alexis Tsipras the party leader and his comrades understood the key to parliamentary power was to offer an alternative to the mainstream and in the process convince enough Greeks they are a party of power not permanent opposition. Public feuding between factions was kept to a minimum and slapped down when they played into the enemies' hands. Which given Syriza is a coalition of the radical Left, consisting of democratic socialists, left-wing populist, green left groups, Maoist, Trotskyist, and eurocommunist is a remarkable achievement. The more so when one considers the penchant the radical left has always had historically for feuding amongst themselves along with having the patience of a Gnat.

As Pablo Iglesias of Podemos, the new party of the Spanish left so astutely put it:
The key to success is to achieve a connection between the reality you have diagnosed and what the majority actually feels.

Indeed and once this has been achieved there is little need to continually harp on about how god awful life is under the establishment parties. People already understand this as they live it every day, what people wish to hear is a viable alternative which gives them hope.

 As Zoe Williams wrote:
First of all, is that they [Syriza and party's like them] reject the prevailing economic verities. Conventional political debate has parties thrashing out positions, which they then justify and defend with reference to the International Monetary Fund or the Office for Budget Responsibility or the Bank of England. Economic projections, or rather the bodies who make them, stand as the final authority on what constitutes a good decision.  
Grant Shapps, the Tory party chairman, provided a bland but elegant example of this on Sunday, when touting the election message – “Conservatives or chaos” – around the BBC. “The IMF says we can be the biggest economy in Europe in 15 years, but only if we stay on the road to growth.” Here, the IMF is presented as authority, godhead and visionary. It can see into the future. It cannot be questioned. In this worldview, party differences are simply practical, problem-solving ones: who can best do what the IMF wants? Who understands growth and how to deliver it? It is ironic that this has become the burning question for democracy, when history shows that growth is pretty unrelated to which party is in government.
Millions of us have concluded organisations like the IMF are part of the problem not the solution as they represent the interest of the banksters and their political gophers whose greed and criminal negligence caused the 2008 economic crash and whose austerity measures have pushed millions of us into penury.

 As Paul Mason pointed out:
The IMF predicted Greece would grow as the result of its aid package in 2010. Instead, the economy has shrunk by 25%. Wages are down by the same amount. Youth unemployment stands at 60% – and that is among those who are still in the country. 

So the economic collapse – about which all Greeks, both right and leftwing, are bitter – is not just seen as a material collapse. It demonstrated complete myopia among the European policy elite. In all of drama and comedy there is no figure more laughable as a rich man who does not know what he is doing. For the past four years the troika – the European Commission, IMF and European Central Bank – has provided Greeks with just such a spectacle.
Through Syriza the Greek people have cried enough, austerity is not the way, there must be and is another way. If we too wish to dig ourselves out of the dreadful economic mess we have allowed the ruling elites to create, whether they be Tories, Lib Dem or New Labour. We too will have to grasp the neo liberal nettle by the throat and take a punt on a future of hope and progress which allows future generations a glimpse of the bright sunny uplands in which they can build lives worth living.



menace said...

How's Mick. I'd love to agree with your analysis and expectations but, unfortunately the cynic in me sees already the euro federalist machine circling their wagons and readying to buy off the new Greek government with promise after broken promise, as we had ourselves in the run into Lisbon 2.
The need to use an economic tool to create a political goal for the people who created the difficulty for ordinary taxpayers is the only agenda. The euro must succeed and those political representatives of big business, including our own labour party, will do everything to ensure it's success, Syriza I suspect will be 'dealt with' through vague promises, and when their people are once more shackled to the Franko-Hun yoke normal programming will resume.
I hope I'm wrong but.......

DaithiD said...

He better make sure that he checks the breaks on his car, and that his seatbelt is functioning, on a regular basis. A fatal "accident" would be too explicable on those winding Greek roads.

sean bres said...

Inclined to agree with menace here, looks like a victory but actually securing it another story. If Syriza resist the pressure to conform to the EU, or more importantly the institutions of capital behind it, and were to seek out meaningful sovereignty and control over the instruments of finance for the Greeks themselves then they will have done something worthy. If they become servant to the master, who will tolerate them providing they go along with the overarching framework of control, then that election victory might more accurately represent a realignment of the imperial interest to account for and manage discontent and dissent. Enjoyable read Mick, thanks

pat murphy said...

We can but live in hope. Vietnam has been one of the poorest countries in the world since they kicked the shit out Yankee doodle. But they have seen nothing yet ,I hear Leguard and her horse men have or intend to help them out with a low interest loan. Like to see the outcome of that,,,,not. Mandela spent nearly thirty years locked up because he wanted freedom for his country. The man let him out made a big fuss over him and continues to this day to rape his country of its riches and abuse and murder its poor. All in the name of progress. Progress for whom?. South america is still in the sights of the European imperialists salivating over the thought of overthrowing all those evil left wing regeimes and taking back what they would see as theirs. I watched v brown tonight and felt like kicking the TV. A millionaire laughing at ordinary men and women who have not got the university education and backroom back up to put forward their point properly. When he asked one girl about what we should do about the ecb and the loan repayments I shouted at the tv ,to the surprise of my wife,fuck the ecb,had I been in the audience I would have shouted the same thing. People have sat back on this island for too long being fucked day and daily by those who prefer to be called the "political elite". Where did that title come from?. We were told in08 that we couldn't sack the bankers because the whole system was too complicated and would collapse. Waken up and smell the coffee,IT FUCKIN HAS. Now there is a slight opportunity to do something which will see the people engineer change but not if we sit on our holes with the attitude that things will get better because so long as the wolves are guarding the door to the hen house there will only be one outcome. I really do wish the Greek people all the best and pray that more countries,including our own,follow as quickly as possible,but as I have said before I won't be holding my breath. James Donnelly once said if you give people power they usually like to hold on to it. "The working class can kiss my ass I've got the foreman's job at last"

menace said...

Quite right Dáthaí, Jorg Haider, albeit a different political outlook, was prepared to take on the status quo, or rather, the Austrian volk were, and he curiously died, Syriza are too threatening the status quo and the Franko-Hun elite will not tolerate such democracy.

Organized Rage said...

Syriza seems to have got away to a good start, where's the optimism which Irish republicanism is known for portraying to the outside world. If we do not display confidence in Syriza why should the masses?

This doom and gloom which comes from some on the left reminds me of Che when in conversation with a leader of the Cuban communist party prior to Cuban revolution.

To paraphrase the great man, he said "The trouble with your party comrade is you do not believe you can take power, so how you believe you can change this country for the better."

The good thing about Syriza is they came to believe they can do both, they've achieved the first, and i'm certain they understand the challenges they face better than most. After all the party leaders first official engagement was to visit the grave of Communists who were murdered by the forces of Greek reaction. If that was not designed to send out a message I do not know what is.

Lutta continua comrades.

AM said...

Mick, the optimism republicanism is known for showing to the outside world is a chimera, not something you want associated with this project.

The Left must be ruthlessly sober on these matters in order to avoid the Pollyanna syndrome which always leads to bad strategic judgement.

Not having the patience of a gnat was very funny ... but I can hardly point the finger, not being a master of patience myself!!!

Good piece. Thanks for the heads up on it.

sean bres said...

An interesting way of putting it Mick and you're right. If we don't believe in ourselves then who will?