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:


  1. Anonymous10:33 AM

    S. Artesian,

    Since you moved the discussion into this post, so will I, if you don't mind.

    I will try to make myself as clear as possible as I still feel that we are speaking past each other.

    With regards to your "I want concretely this... plus concretely that... and not merely a repudiation of the debt etc", it's all cool and dandy. I mean, tell me an honest revolutionary who wouldn't stand behind such demands abstractly? I certainly would. Let me make myself clearer - despite my pessimism towards your demands or rather their actualization/implementation, were workers on the streets demanding that, were there a movement demanding and on the verge of starting a fight, I would side with the workers even if I thought that was a disaster, even if I knew it was futile to begin with, even if I knew it would end up in catastrophe. The thing is that for me this situation is somewhat similar to the July Days and my position is similar to that of Bolsheviks - abstractly your demands are wonderful, abstractly every honest revolutionary would support them, but the point is that we don't live in an abstract world, but in an actual world, where we must assess the actual forces, like Bolsheviks did successfully or how the KPD failed at doing that time and time again. This is precisely where my somewhat opposition to your stance lies, if you can call it opposition.

    So again, when it comes to the abstract we can both agree - workers need to repudiate the debt, Syriza is a "capitalist formation" (whatever that means, but I presume it to mean that Syriza is a non-revolutionary force) and so on.

    I haven't read enough of your posts to know your politics, but this discussion gives me a flavour of that poisonous ultra-leftism (yes, I am saying this as if it was a bad thing... because it is). Making the financial system collapse, making the EU collapse, making the Greek bourgeois state collapse - all of these things might - and I emphasise "might" - lead to a revolutionary situation, but only and solely if certain conditions are met. And just don't give me this "conditions are never ripe" - sure they aren't, but that isn't the point, the point lies in assessing the actual forces, ideological aroma of the century so to speak, the strength of the movement etc. and deciding whether "conditions are not ripe" in a sense that it's somewhat unlikely that workers can seize power or whether "conditions are not ripe" in a sense of workers seizing power being impossible. Destruction of the EU, at the current moment, could only ever be reactionary - the language of the 21st century is that of reaction, the workers are speaking the tongue of their enemy, there is no movement, there is no OUR movement. Golden Dawn is already a force in Greece and increasing in its appeal after Syriza's capitulation. How exactly wouldn't the petty-bourgeois be radicalised and drawn to the GD when inflation inevitably destroy everything that give meaning to their lives? How exactly workers, who will inevitably lose their savings aren't gonna be drawn into the ranks of the enemy when they will blame "radicals" for this? How exactly do you envision the workers' movement winning the civil war when the majority of Greeks, even now, stand by the European project?

    But even if they won, even if there was a Socialist Republic of Greece - how long before it collapses? How long before it takes the inevitable road of the isolated revolutionary states? I don't think it would give a boost to the movement, I rather think it would give power to the reaction, to the nationalist pigs who would built themselves on the grounds shattered EU.

    Sorry for rambling on and on.

    1. No apologies necessary. glad I didn't drive you. I don't think what I was proposing was abstract.
      Golden Dawn is busy at work in neighborhoods-- fascists often do this, coupling "welfare" with xenophobia, racism. etc. I propose that the socialists do similar work, explicitly anti-racist, inclusive of all immigrants, etc.

      I propose not abstractly, that when Syriza demanded money from localities because the ECB refused to accept Greek Tsy notes as collateral in the ELA mechanism that socialist agitate for municipal councils to replace administrations and stop the forwarding of funds, funds which were used to pay debt.

      The point of these steps is not to "wreck" Syriza, but is a recognition that the situation in Greece is not "revolutionary. " No organs of dual power have yet taken root systematically. That is the essential step.

      You cannot take such a first step and support the bourgeois government remaining in the EU. Let the bourgeoisie and Syriza worry about that. The task of socialists is to develop actions into programs that require the extension and intensification of organs of dual power.

      I never called for the destruction of the EU or a Grexit. That decomposition of the EU is well under way as a result of the EU capitalists.

      There's nothing poisonous or ultra-leftist about not supporting TARP...or Brady Bonds....or bail-outs. TARP, the Brady Program, the bail-outs are capitalist efforts to preserve capitalism and they will find a way to do it, and THEIR way transfers the cost to the workers, with the most vulnerable suffering the most. I don't care what their program is, I don't support it, no more than I support the bourgeoisie opening a military base because it will provide "jobs," or revenue for depressed areas. That's not what socialists do, or should do. Doing things like that absolutely pre-empts the prospects for a class based opposition.

      TARP and the ARRA might have failed; and the capitalist economy might have collapsed completely. And so? So does that mean that the working class, especially isolated, fragmented, sections of that class, cannot oppose TARP and ARRA in order to break that isolation; to establish class unity around a class program?

      Saying we have to support a capitalist program because not doing so is "wrecking" is nothing but the lesser evil argument all dressed up in "system" clothing.

      Yes, Golden Dawn is gaining strength because of Syriza's capitulation. But you said it right: It's because of Syriza's capitulation.

      I wish the situation in Greece were akin to the July days. It was and is nowhere close, and it's going in the opposite direction. In the July days, there were organs of dual power, there was a class program in opposition-- it wasn't yet developed enough, but it was there. Greece wasn't even close to that-- which is why the element of program is all the more important-- it's the strategy of how we get "there."

      I think, and honestly, that there was no way Syriza was going to repudiate the debt, but repudiating the debt was the essential agitation point. And if in fact organs of Hellenic Socialist Republic had ever been able to grow and powerfully push that, it would have electrified the workers of Europe and around the world in Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

      How long before such a socialist republic in Greece collapses? I have no idea. Depends on how "electrified" those other workers are. But I conclude all of this, and everything I have to say on this with this simple, and painfully demonstrated FACT: THERE WAS NO ALTERNATIVE; THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE.

  2. Anonymous9:55 AM

    Okay, now it seems that I get it - I concede. Thanks for taking time to clarify, I appreciate it.

    Just an aside - I am not sure how does it work for you, but is there any way you would answer questions not directly related to the post at hand? Maybe related to your older posts?

    Since I don't know whether it's allright and what's the procedure, I have one right away - am I mistaken about the fact that you called Lenin's "Imperialism" either simplistic or wrong on Libcom at some point? Or at least you weren't happy about it? If I am not mistaken, may I ask why do you think so?

    1. Ask me anything, anytime, anywhere. As for Lenin's imperialism, here's the link to the post I wrote a long, long, long, time ago: