Friday, February 27, 2015

Yani and the Hand Jive

I know a cat named Doctor Yani...
He's got a real cool job, jivin' for money
He knows just what makes the eurozone tick
He does that hand jive just for kicks

On Tuesday, February 24, 2015,  the Syriza government of Greece presented its "first comprehensive list of reform measures" to the president of the Eurogroup.  The Eurogroup is what  the committee made up of the finance ministers of countries using the euro as currency is called when it actually meets.

Section III of the list of reforms is identified as "policies to promote growth," and number one, with bullets, among those policies is:
Privatisation and public asset management-- To attract investment in key sectors and use the state's assets efficiently, the Greek authorities will:
--Commit not to roll back privatisations that have been completed.  Where the tender process has been launched the government will respect the process according to the law.
On Wednesday, February 25, 205 the Telegraph reported that George Stathakis, holding the economy portfolio in the Syriza government, had declared:
We will cancel the privatisation of the Piraeus Port.  It will remain permanently under state majority holding.  There is no good reason to turn it into a private monopoly, as we made clear from the first day.
The deal for the sale of the Greek airports will have to be dramatically revised. It all goes to one company .  There is no way it will get through the Greek Parliament.
Stathakis was joined in his opposition by the energy minister, Panagiotis Lafazanis, who stated:
 There will be no energy privatizations.
Always ready with the snappy retort, Germany's finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble responded:
Greece will not get a single penny until it complies with its obligations

This is the second time the story's been floated regarding cancelling the privatization program of state assets.  Now confusion, disorder, and disagreement among government ministers isn't exactly unexpected in a new government of a party that is an amalgam of centrists and leftists. And the amalgam itself is bound to fracture, or collapse, under the crush of events.

That fracturing has already begun.  However the back story of the official "commitment" to privatization and to its opposition is that the program itself has been, is, and will continue to be an abject failure.  Originally proposed to generate some €50 billion in revenue by the end of 2015, as of 2014 the program reported less than €8 billion in sales, with revenues of less than €5 billion.  
It's not just the fact that the program has failed, but the fact that the program cannot succeed.  The program cannot generate revenues sufficient for Greece to pay off its debt, no matter how "efficiently" it is run; regardless of the properties that are offered for sale. 

The program is a liquidation sale of encumbered properties, the value of which is directly proportional to the stability of the economy circumscribing the properties.  The sales themselves tend to destabilize that environment and thus we have another iteration of the "death spiral" of overproduction, where depressing value depresses value. 

Before and upon assuming government, Syriza explicitly recognized that none of the "reforms" required by the Troika could or would allow Greece to repay the debt.  Liquidation sales are never designed to repay the face value of the debt.   Prior to taking power, Syriza correctly identified the Greek economy as insolvent with the privatization program being a liquidation process of bankruptcy, rather than a debt repayment process. 

The point of the privatization process was, and is, liquidating the accumulated social value of the ports, the properties, the infrastructure networks, in order to drive the cost of labor below its value, below its "price" of reproduction.

Wolfie told Yani you'll ruin my zone
You and the hand jive have got to go
Yani told Wolfie 'Don't be so sour'
I'll deliver the whole country in 24 hours
Nothing in the package of reforms imposed under the 2012 agreement will permit Greece to repay its debt obligations.  Nothing in the package of reforms submitted by the Syriza government will provide Greece with enough revenues to repay its accumulated debt.  That is part of the reason Varoufakis didn't provide any numbers to accompany the so-called reforms.  The debt simply cannot be supported.   

Consequently the only realistic, practical "economic" program is at one and the same time the only rational radical social program.  Both begin with repudiating the debt in its entirety.  Both necessarily involve scrapping the MFFA of 2012 completely.  Both require bringing Syriza's "reform package" to the floor of the parliament for a vote of confidence.  

The forcing of a vote of confidence is not designed to ensure a change of ministers, substituting Stathakis and Lafazanis for Tsipras and Varoufakis.  Nor is it about ensuring a change of parties. The issue is not that Syriza has "betrayed the revolution," or "betrayed the workers."  Syriza never represented a "revolution" nor the workers.  Syriza reversed its political message upon achieving power, as the conditions in Greece are indeed revolutionary and Syriza is indeed not.

The vote of no confidence in the Syriza government is essential for changing the locus of power from the institutions of the bourgeoisie, like parliament and the ministers,  and towards the mobilization of neighborhood, factory, and social assemblies as platforms for the advance of a class-wide program. 

Yani sent a package to the city of Brussels
Intending  to flex his virtual muscles
"It's a virtual economy," he said with glee
"Pretend and extend" is our curren-cy 

Some where there has to be some thing both more hilarious and more pathetic than the twists and turns of our VIBs, our SIPs, our counter punchers, our tomb raiders, repentant film reviewers as they try to spin Syriza's pig ear into a silk purse.  We get told "Sometime the bosses are too strong." We're told how sometimes even real revolutionists have to make bad deals.  Then we're told, sometimes by others, sometimes by the same "Well, it's not a defeat after all.  Hell, it's a victory."  Then we're told "Varoufakis is a fucking genius."  

Even others tell us, after acknowledging that indeed Syriza did capitulate, that "honor" has been rescued by 30 or 40 Syriza members of parliament, who in an informal caucus either voted "no"  or abstained during a "straw poll" regarding the reform package.  This, you see, tells Tsipras that submitting the package for parliamentary approval will very clearly become a no-confidence vote for his government.  Therefore, Tsipras will simply impose the agreements with the Troika, without submitting them to parliament, while the "Syriza left" has saved Syriza's "honor," and the honor of all the left by abstaining or voting no in a meaningless straw poll.  

Shows just how little honor there really is among these thieves.  And shows you how meaningless is the support offered by these New Blairites for "democracy" for "elections"  for "parliament."  Now  maneuvering to prevent new elections, to by-pass parliament is the new democracy.  

If intelligence and integrity were dynamite, our VIBs, SIPs, counter punchers, tomb-raiders, znet pundits, our New Blairites wouldn't have enough, collectively, to blow their noses.  

And that ain't no jive. 

February 27, 2015



  1. " Syriza never represented a "revolution" nor the workers. Syriza reversed its political message upon achieving power, as the conditions in Greece are indeed revolutionary and Syriza is indeed not."

    This assumes objectively revolutionary in the general sense of developed (and now "undeveloping" as I like to call it) capitalism, already "ripe" for the transition to socialism.

    For I don't think the *political* situation on Greece can be objectively described as revolutionary. We are still in the political situation of a defensive resistance to what I call the strategy of the permanent counterrevolution pressed particularly by the "Western" Triad bourgeoisie. It is precisely the glaring contradiction between this "subjective" political/ideological situation, and the objective reality of the transition to socialism, that produces political phenomena such as Syriza, Podemos, die Linke, etc.. At the same time the emergence of this latter has the potential to produce the opening to transform defense into offense, to spark the beginning of the reversal of TINA. That could also manifest itself in the emergence of a real revolutionary political situation. Qualitative dialectical transformation and all that. But this mere possibility can only be realized without illusions in the above left political formations.

  2. Well, I think the "objective conditions" are revolutionary, that is to say the means of production are in conflict with the relations of production. Capital cannot reconstitute itself without liquidating the productive apparatus to some degree, and driving the price of labor power below its cost of reproduction.

    Doesn't mean that the we proclaim "all power to the soviets." Does mean the time is "ripe" for the building of the equivalent to soviets.

  3. Anonymous11:24 AM

    I'd really be interested in hearing your thoughts on how we'd go about building the equivalent to soviets.


    1. I think soviets, assemblies, councils develop somewhat "organically" out of those "proto-organs" that arise from specific struggles-- so for example strike committees that seek to broaden support beyond the boundaries of unions might be an example.

      Another opportunity is presented where the delivery of basic services to a neighborhood or region, such as sanitation, drinking water, medical care, or even libraries has been impaired or abandoned by the government