Sunday, July 26, 2015

Question

Are the only ones who understand Marx, as opposed to Marx-ism; who understand that Marx was first and foremost a revolutionist, that all Marx wanted to do was to place social revolution on the strongest, definitive,  irrefutable platform possible: are only those who identify with anarchism; who draw their inspiration from Situationist texts; who in fact spit on everything and everyone who already reeks of accommodation to things as they are, which of course, is only the relation that is?

I think so.  Nobody understands Marx but those who spit from top to bottom on the bourgeoisie, who can't even utter the term without spitting. 

FWIW, I know I have never written "bourgeoisie" without spitting.  I keep a bucket by my desk.

July 26, 2015

SA(S)R Syndrome Moves On

Short-Attention-Span-Radicalism has quickly recovered from its setback in Greece,  finding solace in  its own unique spin on Joe Hill's supposed last words-- "Don't mourn, Don't organize; Forget, Ignore, Repeat." The SARs brigade made up of VIBs; SIPs; near, neo, quasi, democratic, semi, hemi, demi, erratic, mo, po, po-mo socialists is done sitting shiva for Greece and has moved on to its next challenge, its once and future failure, Britain.

"Greece?  Oh, that's so yesterday. Greece? What did you expect?  Greece?  We told you it wasn't a revolutionary situation," say our SARs.  "We're over Greece."

The VIB, Richard Seymour, is once again waxing, and waning, eloquent in this demonstration of obsessive-compulsive behavior, this repetition in the service of failure.  Opining on the candidacy of Jeremy Corbyn for the leadersip of Britain's Labour Party, Seymour writes that Corbyn is the candidate the Conservative Party most fears.  Absolutely correct, but the Tory fear is miniscule compared to that of the Labour Party itself.  Seymour points out that the right-bloc of the party threatens a split, a coup, collective suicide, but not yet car bombings, if Corbyn wins.

Panicked by the flood of new members into the party, the "right bloc" [if such a thing can be said to exist in this party] has called for the election to be suspended until a proper check of the credentials of the new members can be vetted, highlighting how dangerous becoming the majority really is to the right-bloc of the Labour Party.

John Mann, Labour MP, has written that the election "threatens to become a farce" due to the return to the party of "some of the Militant-Tendency types," proving once again that Labour may be "a big house" but it's a mortgaged big house,  a sub-prime ARM with a big fat balloon payment callable at the whim of the bankers.

Corbyn, loyal first and last, says he only wants "genuine Labour supporters"  Says Corbyn, "I only want people to register as Labour supporters if they are genuine supporters and intend to stay for the longer course."  Word.

Really?  Sure thing.  Seymour says:
So, Corbyn could win.  This does not mean that I am going to pay my £3 and join up as a 'supporter' in order to vote for Corbyn.  There's quite a lot of bandwagon-hopping at the moment - it was the same with the Greens last year - and joining the Labour Party just to have a vote and then leaving is pointless.  Why vote for Corbyn if you're not going to hang around and try to support him and try to reconstitute the Labour Party?  He'll be weak enough against the established power of the old right-wing bureaucracy, without a big chunk of his base fucking off the day after the polls close.  Corbyn will not win by pulling in outside forces who have no interested in the Labour Party's long-term future, and no identification with it; he will win by shaking up the Labour Party, and drawing in new members who are just becoming politicised. 
Indecisiveness is essential to the manifestation, and maintenance of SAR syndrome, so a paragraph or so later, we get:
However, that tactical point doesn't change the overall situation, and it doesn't mean we don't have a responsibility to support Corbyn's bid...It's not just the Labour Left that is weak.  It is the Left as a whole.  Yes, Corbyn would be relatively isolated at the top, and top-heavy successes are extremely vulnerable.  Yes, he will be trying to shift the balance of forces in favour of the Left, in a situation in which our forces are incredibly depleted. But it is a structural aspect of today's situation that in the growing vacuum created by the breakdown of the old party-base relationship, individuals and groups can suddenly project influence well beyond their actual social basis, if what they say finds an ideological resonance in lived experience.  We don't get to change that just be force of will.  So we have to work with the grain of our few advantages.  Corbyn has made a breakthrough, and that presents opportunities that it would be stupid and irresponsible to opt out of.
 Well, what do you know?  What can you say,  after you say: 

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.

To market, to market, to buy a fat hog,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog.

To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done

We can say: "let's try this"-- Everywhere in Seymour's article for the words Tory, Conservative, Tories, substitute New Democracy; for the word Labor, substitute PASOK, for Corbyn substitute Syriza or Tsipras (your pick).  Now read it again.  Does this sound familiar?  To those not (yet) infected with SARs (no guarantees as to anyone's "natural" immunity), it should.  

For our VIP bogger, not so much. It must be  the deep shock of Syriza's capitulation, a "world-historic" defeat that compels Seymour into one more iteration of repetition in the service of failure.  However, if it really is a "world-historic defeat" then surely it deserves an analysis, an explanation, an examination, something more material than the pathetic sentimentality Seymour has provided. 

Or maybe-- maybe the so yesterday events in Greece aren't a defeat at all, a position advanced by Panitch and Gindin and echoed oddly or not by Insurgent Notes, which after producing a single article in 2010, couldn't muster another examination of the struggle in Greece until this -- seven paragraphs in half-an-article, which more rather than less, dismisses the events, as its author later makes explicit in his comments, as not amounting to a reversal to the struggle against capitalism in Greece, Europe, the globe.   

I wish I could say I'm surprised by this lack of insight, the superficiality of analysis, the disavowal of  and disdain for the struggle in Greece promoted by Insurgent Notes.  I am not.  So-called "left communism"can be just as much leftism as anything and anyone else-- concerned with its own status, its own credentials, its own package.

There has been a reversal in Greece.  The struggle against capitalism has suffered a defeat.  Still, history hasn't come to an end.  It's not quite yet over in Greece.  Greece 2015 is not yet Chile 1973.  It's not yet time to move on and plan the next disaster.   The class struggle in Greece deserves better treatment. 
July 26, 2015

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What a Difference a Year Makes

                                                        Mix and Match

2014

 "This is not our Europe. This is only the Europe we want to change.  In place of a Europe of fear of unemployment, disability, old-age and poverty; in the place of the current Europe that redistributes income to the rich and fear to the poor; in place of a Europe in the service of bankers’ needs, we want a Europe in the service of human needs."


"Finally, the real issue facing the Greek left is how to unite people on a class basis against a ruling class that is tightly coupled to the German bourgeoisie. Syriza offers a framework for revolutionaries that will enable them to connect with millions of Greeks who have not yet achieved a revolutionary consciousness. Unlike the Greek Communist Party, Syriza is relatively open and transparent—a function of the “reformism” that Callinicos disdains. The alternative to the CP and Syriza is the tiny and inconsequential Antarsya that is united around the need for revolution but a “reformist” party that can begin to serve as a pole of attraction for revolutionaries. In the event that Syriza is elected and fails to carry out its mandate, it will be up to its left wing to push the agenda for overcoming austerity in the only way possible: overthrowing Greek capitalism."


"The fact is that the leaders of erstwhile socialist parties have been talking the talk of responsible capitalism for a very long time. It was how they covered their tracks as they retreated from offering people a way out of the rat race of capitalism – rather than compensation for being losers in it – even in the postwar era. Those who imagine that the progressive reforms achieved in that era stand as proof today that a responsible capitalism is possible are sorely mistaken. On the contrary, the undoing of those reforms after just a few decades shows that a responsible capitalism is indeed a contradiction in terms.
************************************************************************
2015

"On the basis of the massive defeat of the forces behind the Yes vote in the referendum, and the opposition party leaders resignation, the other mainstream party leaders joined with Syriza in backing the plan the Institutions had rejected before and coupled that with support for Syriza's position. This was that once the plug had been pulled on the extension of the old government's memorandum, they would all support coupling fiscal restraint and structural reforms with substantial debt restructuring and investment funds in immediate negotiations on a new three year memorandum..

The hope that this might be pulled off was enhanced by indications that the U.S. government was putting pressure both on the IMF and the Merkel government. This was fed by IMF signals on the importance of very significant debt restructuring in a new three year deal...


What Alexis Tsipras and (the new Finance Minister) Euclid Tsakalotos took to the final negotiations last Saturday, as passed by the Greek parliament, was not all that different than the plan that has been forwarded to the Institutions and rejected before the referendum. And they took courage from the fact that the negotiations were now about a new three year deal rather than continuing the drip-feeding from the old memorandum with which they had been strangled from February to June. There was now even a clear split on the side of the European interlocutors over whether to accommodate what Tsipras was bringing to the table. "  

"I am long past the point when I expect anything different.  I never had an(y) expectations that Syriza would be victorious...I take everything in stride."                        
 
"I acknowledge the fiscal measures are harsh, that they won't benefit the Greek economy, but I'm forced to accept them."


_____________________

Full disclosure:  Even I get sick of my sarcasm at times.  I acknowledge what a harsh, severe, relentless, abrasive bastard I am, when it comes to these things.   Really.  But how else can you deal with the selective memory loss, the cognitive dissonance, that is so essential to the pathology that is repetitive leftism?

July 16, 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Hard Way

The Hellenic Parliament has voted to approve, and will presumably implement, the demands of the Troika accepted on July 12 by the prime minister, who now states he doesn't support the agreement although he will implement it, and urges its approval.  The comes five days after the prime minister promised "the bigger the 'No' vote [on the referendum regarding the Troikas final, but expired and off the table offer], the better the deal."   It takes a lot of processing power, and storage capacity to keep up with the prime minister's different positions.

Inside the parliament the vote was 229 in favor to 64 against.  Thirty two of the "no" votes came from Syriza MPs.  Deputies from Syriza's coalition partner, the right-nationalist ANEL party, brought into government because of its principled agreement with Syriza's original position of "no further memorandums, no further bail-outs," voted unanimously for the agreement, which means the "principle" is now in direct contradiction to what it once was, but the partners are still allied.

The Tsipras government is now a minority government.  It depends for its existence on the support of PASOK and New Democracy and To Potami.  

Outside the parliament, the police are protecting the parliamentarians from the street protests with batons and tear gas, the purchases of which are not subject to Troika scrutiny.  


Well....a reader wanted to know why I thought "repudiating the debt was better than the status quo."  There are multiple reasons.  First and foremost, there is no status quo.  That's the critical point.  As bad as things are now, they will be much worse with the burdens placed on Greece through this agreement and the next memorandum.  Secondly, all those things forecast to occur if Greece repudiated the debt-- "the loss of tourism, further drops in foreign investment, social turmoil"-- will occur under the terms of the new memorandum, or without a new memorandum.  There is simply no possibility for "recovery," if such a word even has meaning any longer, of Greece's capitalism. 

The reader then asked "how would Greece defaulting be a better option for the prospects of a global revolution CONCRETELY?"  Concretely, repudiating the debt would pretty much bankrupt the ESM, jeopardize the ECB, and undermine the capital markets worldwide.  Now that in itself is not a seizure of power, but it's not a bad start.  Concretely, repudiating the debt attacks the claims on labor that need to be enforced to preserve capitalist property.  Concretely, repudiating the debt threatens every mechanism of exchange, and control, that the European bourgeoisie have fashioned in their grand alliance of the European Union.  Concretely, repudiating the debt would have a tremendous impact on the poor, the pensioners, the unemployed of Greece posing the question of the purpose of production along class lines.  Concretely repudiating the debt would have an equally dramatic impact on workers in Spain, Portugal, Slovenia, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Germany, Hungary.  Concretely, repudiating the debt undercuts the appeal of the fascists to the unemployed, the youth, the marginalized.

Would Europe retaliate?  Of course.  Would Greek assets be seized?  Of course.  Would living conditions in Greece deteriorate?  Undoubtedly.  This isn't 1960; Greece isn't Cuba; and there is no Soviet Union to subsidize the country. But...

But...I flip the assertion right back to those who argue against repudiating the debt:  there is no choice.  The alternative to repudiating the debt has proven itself catastrophic.  Repudiating the debt is an essential first step to reversing the catastrophe.  Don't take that step and nobody goes nowhere. 

Is it "hard"? Complicated?  Difficult?  Painful?  Of course.  And there is no alternative.

Back in the day, so many years ago that I can only dimly recall, after the collapse of Lehman Bros. and after Maiden Lanes 1,2,3, and all the special facilities, there was the same type of argument about TARP.  Then, Doug Henwood of the Left Business Observer, supported the TARP intervention to stabilize the credit-system, because (if I recall the argument correctly) the alternative was the collapse of the entire financial network, and a massive global depression.  The alternative it was thought was too horrible to contemplate.  Hence one had to support the government rescuing the bourgeoisie.

One did not.  One does not.  The collapse of the system is preferable to its maintenance, to its reproduction, to its recovery.  Because....the recovery of this system is much more horrible to contemplate than the after-effects of repudiating capitalism in part and in whole.  No I don't think things have to get worse before they get better.  I just think capitalism gets worse without getting better.

July 15, 3015
how would Greece defaulting be a better option for the prospects of a global revolution CONCRETELY?" - See more at: http://thewolfatthedoor.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-third-time-is-charm.html#comment-form

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Third Time Is the Charm

2010-- The government of Greece is bankrupt and cannot service it's sovereign debt.  The economy is near collapse.  First bailout memorandum, familiarly known as the Kick-The-Can-Down-the-Road Memorandum is agreed to.  Economy continues to contract.

2012-- The government of Greece is bankrupt and cannot service it's sovereign debt, most of which is owned by commercial and private financial institutions.  The economy is near collapse.  Second bailout memorandum, familiarly known as Eat-Shit-And-Die Memorandum is agreed to.  Commercial and private financial institutions balance sheets are rescued.  Economy is that much nearer to collapse.

2015-- The government of Greece is bankrupt and cannot service its sovereign debt, most of which is now owned by the official institutions of European and international capitalism, the ECB, the governments of Germany, France, Italy, Spain either directly or through the EFSF, whose last active program was the assistance program for Greece, which expired on June 30, 2015.  EFSF continues to exist but only to service the bonds it issued to bankroll its operations and its assistance programs, receive payments, and maintain continuity as the ESM takes over all responsibility.

The Greek economy has effectively collapsed.  Tsipras, the Prime Minister and leader of the Syriza party establishes a referendum for the Greek people to reject the "last offer" of the EU lenders, vowing that "the day after the referendum, negotiations will resume," and "the bigger the 'NO' vote [on those previous terms] the better the terms [of the new agreement that results from the new negotiations]."

Tsipras is, and has been, in so far over his head he has to look up to see the bottoms of his own shoes. Tsipras appeals for a third bailout.  Instead he receives and supports an "agreement", familiarly known as the Hung-By-the-Neck-for-Our-General-Amusement-Agreement, that may, if certain conditions are met, possibly lead to a third memorandum.  Oh boy, can't wait for that.

2015-- Tsipras, who's penchant for self-aggrandizement is matched and supported by an astounding inability to accurately evaluate social forces and "economic outcomes,"  states that while he does not "believe in" the new memorandum, he will implement it; that he signed the agreement in order to "avoid disaster for the country," which of course has suffered catastrophically from the previous memorandums; that he has no plans to resign, and that the the terms of this agreement "were milder" than those of previous agreements. 

Well, taking his "personal plans" first in dealing with this topsy-turvium  pathology of Tsipras', it doesn't matter what he plans, as has been so made so painfully clear to the most casual observer.  He doesn't plan to resign?  That's nice.  And irrelevant.

Reports are that ANEL, whose seats gave Syriza the majority necessary to form a government will vote against the agreement when it reaches the floor of the Hellenic Parliament.  Now the vote on this agreement will be one of the two most important votes the parliament has taken since January 26, 2015, the other being the vote of July 10, so I expect a good half-dozen or so of Syriza MPs, including Varoufakis will have personal matters of a higher priority demanding their time, and won't attend the session.  And another good half-dozen or so will actually find the nerve to vote "no."  

The KKE and the Fascists are sure "no" votes, so Tsipras's faction in Syriza will be dependent upon "yes" votes from PASOK, and New Democracy. This vote, no matter which way it goes is a vote of confidence in the Syriza government with all votes meaning "no confidence."  Tsipras is done. Gone.  Cooked. Maybe he gets a severely reduced pension, but we can hope not. 

Now as to this current agreement being "milder" than the last pre-referendum offer.  This agreement commits the Eurozone, the IMF, the ECB, the ESM to absolutely nothing.  This "agreement" is a set of pre-conditions that Greece must satisfy before negotiations towards a new MOU can even be initiated.  So we cannot compare the terms of this agreement to the terms of the last proposal made by the Troika prior to the referendum.

This is more than a technical detail, but more than technical details have never been exactly the strong point of Syriza's administration. 

What the agreement does require is that the Greek government modify the VAT to suit the demands of the Troika. 

What the agreement does require is long term, comprehensive reform of pensions to the satisfaction of the Troika.

What the agreement does require is that the Greek government comply with the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, which stipulates that government deficits cannot exceed 3% of the GDP and that government debt does not exceed, or is sufficiently declining towards [emphasis added] 60% of the GDP.

What the agreement does require is full implementation of that same treaty such that automatic spending cuts are triggered in case of deviations from targeted primary budget surpluses.

What the agreement does require is changes to pension laws to offset the cost of the decision by Greece's Constitutional Court in 2012 declaring illegal the cutting of benefits to those who received both main and supplemental pensions, an estimated "clawback" by the EU from Greece of €1.022 billion.

The agreement does require implementation of OECD "Toolkit 1" to "enhance" competitiveness in various retailing and merchandising sectors with the application of OECD "Toolkit 2" anticipated for the manufacturing sector.

The agreement does require privatization of the country's electricity transmission network.

The agreement does require "reform" of labor markets to comply with "European best practices" when it comes to mass dismissals and layoffs.

The agreement does not require the transfer the transfer of €50 billion in national assets to a privatization fund, in that pre-valuation of assets prior to market sale does not satisfy the demand to fund this special facility to the €50 billion mark from the sale of assets.  The €50 billion realized from the sale of assets having as yet unknown total costs, pre-crisis notional value, or any other measure, will be used to "pre-refund" the debt occurring from any new memorandum and recapitalizing the banks (€25 billion), decreasing the debt/GDP ratio (€12.5 billion) and "investments" (€12.5 billion).

The agreement does require the review of legislation, with the exception of the emergency humanitarian package, enacted by the Hellenic parliament since February 20, in order to amend any laws that "backtracked" on previous commitments.

These are the "minimum requirements" that Greece alone must fulfill before any negotiations for debt relief, extended terms, additional funds provided by the ESM can take place. 


So there are no new terms that are milder than in previous agreements, because there are no terms of any agreement.  There are minimum requirements placed exclusively upon Greece before any negotiations regarding any possible agreement will even be entertained.

Now all the PhDs in the world-- the Leos, and Sams, and Hans, and Yannis-- can try to spin this as an "undefeat."

All the idiot movie-reviewers, semi-socialists, and friends can plead that Syriza, poor little Syriza was overwhelmed because life and systems and computer networks and writing code are just too complicated for anybody other than--well, themselves, when up until now everybody else was arguing that those same computer networks made it so much easier to "manage" socialism, to really match production to need (see Cockshott's works).

All those who yesterday proclaimed that the job of revolutionists, Marxists, etc. was to join Syriza "in order to keep it honest" can pretend that joining Syriza was anything ever than the dishonest effort to pre-empt the prospects for social revolution.

The institutions of European capitalism know better.  They know blood when they smell it.  They know victory when they taste it.  And the blood of the people of Greece is the taste of victory in the mouth of the Troika.

July 14, 2015








Monday, July 13, 2015

Dear Leo, Dear Sam

Shut up, you should excuse the harsh language.  Put a sock on it.  Close your gob.  Be quiet.  Just shut up.  You don't know what you're talking about and you keep talking about it so it's gone from simply being embarrassing to being  annoying to being pathetic to being downright offensive.  So shut  up.

Yesterday you're all about not jumping to conclusions, about waiting for the outcome of that momentous day.  Today, after we know the outcome, a plan so severe, so demanding, and so dismissive of Greece as anything other but a body to be bled dry that it  leaves Vlad the Impaler envious, you're back at it,  ass-backwards at it claiming that the Left Platform within Syriza and all those arguing for leaving the Eurozone were advocating a "non-starter." And of course, your starter is to completely ignore  yesterday's momentous day.

You proclaim that the Eurozone "clearly" sees  "that Syriza is a left party with socialism in its DNA, and one that whatever the constraints of staying within the EU, will continue to challenge European and global capitalism."  Well that settles it, then.  Wolfgang Schäuble, Mario Draghi, and Christine Lagarde will tell us what's socialist, and what's not.

My response to that nonsense:  "You wanna bet?"  You wanna bet that Syriza is not done, cooked, out the door, crumbling gone, dismissed with extreme prejudice?
 


Socialism in its DNA?  Exactly how does a political formation get socialism in its DNA?  Are we talking fertilization of zygotes here?  Acquired characteristics?  Lamarckian evolution? 

Not a word do you offer about Syriza's separation and isolation of the program of austerity from servicing the debt.  Not a word do you offer about Syriza's separation and isolation of debt service from maintaining its membership in the European Union.  Not a word do you utter about Syriza's separation and isolation of membership in the European Union from ongoing support for European capitalism. 

And with all that silence, you tell us that Syriza's DNA was socialist.

You probably don't recognize your "argument" for what it is, but it is nothing other than the argument the big C Communist Parties used to discipline supporters, followers, and opponents in the 1920s, 1930s, and beyond, with the CPs claiming  the legacy of,  the genetics of the Russian Revolution as a badge of authority. 

Bullshit then, bullshit now. 

Maybe there is and maybe there isn't such a thing as "socialist DNA," but if there is then the only sure thing is that within the body of Syriza, the socialist gene is regressive and cannot be expressed in or by the host organism. 

So just shut up.

July 13, 2015


The Action is the Man

On Friday, July 10, 2015, when the Hellenic Parliament voted on the "Tsipras submissions" to the EU, Yannis Varoufakis, former minister of finance, and current MP, wasn't there.  He wasn't there to vote "yes" "no" or "present."  Yanni-boy was a no-show, begging off due to pressing personal matters.

Priceless, no?  After the referendum, after all his blogging this and blogging that, after all the pictures on the motorcycle with his wife (only one helmet, and we know Yanni-boy wasn't sharing), after all the posturing, after all the rhetoric, the bag of wind couldn't bother showing up at the official conclave of bags of wind, to open his mouth, raise his hand, or press a button.

There's a man who takes his responsibility to the office to which he was elected-- as a representative of the people-- so deeply to heart that he skips a decisive vote in parliament to tend to his vacation home.

If the Syriza  had a hair on its ass, which it does not, it would designate all of Varoufakis' property for immediate assignment into the privatization fund. 

Meet the Paris Hilton of  "radical" political economy, Yannis Varoufakis.  He's his own chihuahua, a shivering, yapping dog.

July 13, 2015