For example, channeling the spirit of the late Doctor Salvador Allende, Alexis Tsipras, brand new PM of Greece, has appointed the leader of the Greek Independent party (ANEL) as minister of defense. (Right, right, I know 40 years is not considered short-term, but it seems like only yesterday to me.)
Some of us might recall how Dr. Allende coopted one Augusto Pinochet [correction] as Commander-in-Chief of the Army just prior to the coup of September 11, 1973. Allende was a brilliant tactician, and strategist, not to mention humanitarian, all around good-guy, friend of the working people. Clearly he saw what we, mediocre tacticians, neophyte strategists, not too humanitarian, and nowhere close to being good guys or friends to anybody, couldn't see: that coopting Pinochet would require the good general to remain just that, a good, loyal general.
Apparently Pinochet didn't see it that way either. Augusto at least understood loyalty to class over loyalty to government. Take a lesson.
So Tsipras hands the defense portfolio to Pannos Kammenos, leader of ANEL, and a man who proposes that Greece should renounce its debt; prosecute former government ministers for corruption; demand and obtain reparations from Germany for actions during WW2; expel immigrants; restore Christian education to the public school system; and thinks BTW that Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists don't pay taxes.
Let's put it directly. As matters of program, of class program, we oppose reparations; we oppose expelling immigrants, we welcome immigrants; we oppose and prohibit religious education in the school system; and we don't think Jews, Muslims, Buddhists are different from Christians, Hindus, Animists because they are Jews, Muslims, Buddhists when it comes to protecting private property.
Therefore, we don't care what ANEL's position is on the EC/ECB/IMF debt agreements; we don't care what ANEL's position is on the actions of former government ministers. ANEL represents a section, even if only a sliver, of the bourgeoisie; of nut-job capitalism, which as the Koch Bros. have demonstrated, can be so perfectly representative of capitalism as a whole.
If you read the comments of those who raise the roof for Syriza, you find very little being said about the alliance with ANEL. The ANEL cards are there, all right, in plain sight, but our learned leftists don't recognize it. "Where did a put that defense portfolio? On my left? On my right?"
Some acknowledge it, and being schooled as contortionists, switch from Concentration to Twister. We get this from the VIB (very important blogger) Richard Seymour:
Did you read that? The Greek struggle for "national self-determination." See, I missed that. I thought, silly me, that the Greek struggle for national self-determination had pretty much taken place in the 19th century, with its independence from the Ottoman empire, and was concluded finally, bloodily, and counter-revolutionarily, as all national self-determination are sooner or later, with the massive population "exchanges" and slaughters of the 20th century.As far as I can tell, the Syriza leadership and parliamentary bloc first dabbled with an alliance with ANEL during the Cypriot banking crisis in 2012-13. In his response to the crisis, Tsipras argued that the European leadership was colonising the south, using debt servitude as its main instrument. This clearly articulated one dimension of the Greek struggle, which is the struggle for national self-determination. Greece's position in the European imperialist chain, the attitude of the troika to Greek public opinion, the effective cancellation of democracy, are all as central as the struggle against the Greek bourgeoisie. And indeed, Syriza distinguishes between different fractions of the bourgeoisie - the oligarchs tied to what Pablo Iglesias called the 'Finance International', and the 'national' or 'subaltern' bourgeoisie who want capitalism to be made to work again, but for whom the memorandum doesn't work. So this strategic idea of, to give it the 1970s Gramscian gloss, a 'national-popular', cross-class alliance to break the memorandum, has a very definite referent in the nature of the Greek struggle and in Syriza's analysis of Greek capitalism.
ANEL makes a certain sense as a partner in this. It is right-wing in ways that only a UKIP Facebook forum on chemtrails would fully understand and its leader, Panos Kammenos, is a thug. However, it represents the breakaway from the main capitalist party, New Democracy, on the specific axis of the memorandum. And it is in a way ideal for the Syriza leadership because it is anti-memorandum without being anti-euro. Moreover, it also has a 'popular' character: if this election followed past form, its support will have been concentrated in the working class, and weak in the middle class - to this extent, its electoral profile more closely resembles that of a leftist party than New Democracy. So, for almost two years now, Tsipras et al have been maintaining contacts with ANEL on the basis of their shared opposition to the memorandum.
Yeah, yeah, I know, our VIB says that the struggle against the IMF, against the troika, against international capitalism's suspension of Greek democracy is no less important than the struggle against the Greek bourgeoisie, Sorry, when you put it like that, you are presuming, and preserving, the notion that prior to the bankruptcy/bailout, Greece had democracy. Your presuming that "Greek capitalism" was a petty, benign system, maybe the idyllic "simple commodity production" that Marx never referred to, which now finds itself subjugated by the demands of "foreigners." When you put it like that, you are on the same platform already as ANEL.
Capitalism in Greece does not exist separate and apart from the ECB, the EC, the IMF.
Greek capitalism does not require "democracy," "regard for public opinion," or "national self-determination." It does require the EU, the ECB, the IMF.
So we've got this "strategic idea" of "national popular"cross class alliance. And we give it a "Gramscian gloss" and that makes it sound so profound, so modern, so "dialectical." Few, I guess, recall that the national popular cross class alliance is an old, and murderous program against social revolution. I mean who is going to call Gramsci, the imprisoned martyr, the regular Gandhi of the proletariat, "counterrevolutionary"? ME? No way. Somebody might accuse me of being a Bordigaist, whatever that is.
Take the Gramscian gloss away and what do have? You have a popular front. You have Mao's "new democracy," or maybe the "bloc of four classes." You maybe, maybe, if there's a strong working class movement independent of the "bloc," have the MNR in Bolivia, including its romance with, and theoretical debt to romantic fascism. You have pretty much the defeat of every working class revolution since.....well, since 1919.
You have Germany. Does anybody here think Syriza is more astute, more connected with the proletariat, more radical than the SPD and the USPD in 1919? 1921? 1923?
Does anyone here think Syriza is more nimble, more intelligent, more intransigent than the popular front in Spain, in France?
Does anyone think that this, this niche-ing of the bourgeoisie (bad=finance, international; good=industrial, national) was not the very same mask worn by the UP in Chile to cover its anti-revolutionary, anti-proletarian struggle against los cordones industriale?
Does anyone here think Syriza is more prepared for armed struggle than the FSLN, or the FMLN in 1980?
Of all these failures, some slogged hard and true for "national self-determination," of course; most distinguished between the "bad, international" capitalists and the "patriotic, good;" all were collaborations, cross-class collaborations.
Meanwhile... Meanwhile? Meanwhile, ANEL is chanting, and with better reason and prospects than the KPD ever had, "Nach Tsipras, Uns!"
January 27, 2014