Saturday, July 11, 2015
Strike while the iron is hot, Greek negotiators." - Tariq Ali, July 5th
"61 percent of the Greek voters rejected the deal that Tsipras has now accepted. The consequences will be dire for Greece. The new Memoranda is worse than what previous governments were compelled to do. The chronicle of a tragedy foretold. The Left in Syriza is calling for demonstrations and will vote against the deal in parliament. A sad day."- Tariq Ali, July 11th
Two quotes that show what a terrible difference a few short days can make.
After the Greek people made an historic and heroic stand against austerity in a referendum a week ago, the very leader and party that called this referendum has capitulated entirely and shockingly to the European banks and Europe's mainstream political consensus. They have dashed the dreams, hopes and joy of people not just in Greece but worldwide.
Far from seizing the very real mandate for a radical departure that the Greek people themselves handed to them, Syriza and its Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accepted an austerity "bailout" without any meaningful concessions of any kind except on the part of Greece! To stay in the currency union they gave-in on basically all fronts.
One has to wonder what the point of the referendum was at all.
Tsipras said last Sunday "the Greek people made a historic and brave choice". The same cannot, at this point, be said of him and his government in the days that followed.
I think that the negative implications of the capitulation of the Greek government for the socialist left and for left anti-capitalists who believe in an electoral strategy or radical reformist approach to achieving transformative change within European or North American capitalist countries in this ongoing neo-liberal hegemony will be profound-- certainly in the short-term.
When Syriza was first elected I wrote that its triumph represented, potentially, a real challenge not only to the inhuman and cruel agenda of global finance capital, but also to the mainstream social democratic narrative of collaboration with and acceptance of it and to parties like the French Socialists or Canada's New Democrats who have all but abandoned any notion of an anti-capitalist economic and social vision.
The tremendously courageous statement made by the people of Greece in the referendum made the reality of a realization of that challenge seem to be truly at hand.
That potential challenge, certainly insofar as SYRIZA is concerned, is now basically over. The European political powers and the backers of austerity have won a complete and total victory mere days after they seemed on the verge of their first real defeat. The seeming alternative is now, they can claim, exposed as a chimera. The lesson, the "realists" and the powers-that-be will say, is very clear -- against them, a people expressing their democratic will cannot win and their elected representatives will be brought to heel.
In fact, the Germans appear to be using the Greek retreat to demand even harsher concessions! At this point who is to say they will not get them? Syriza's credibility or its previously perceived willingness to stand fast is certainly in tatters.
What this says and what this means for any future anti-austerity left electoral coalition or government or for any strategy to create this -- and to then, once elected, actually implement the promised agenda -- in the countries of Europe or North America it is, of course, too soon to say or to speculate on.
But at the very least it certainly means and says nothing good.