It surely cannot come as a complete surprise, that the so-called radicals in the leadership roles of the new Greek political party Syriza, rolled over and accepted the almost fascist levels of economic and financial demands made by the European leaders, upon the Greek people. After all, the middle-class, fake-left in Greece, as personified by Tsipras and Varoufakis et al, were absolutely clear on their joint project. It was to maintain Greece as a subordinate sector of global capitalist system as coordinated by the European Union. At the very best they just wanted Greece to be a moderately viable sector of the European financial investment conglomerate. [See ‘Syriza’s Plan for Greece’ on this blog] What has happened is that the true-colours of this opaque milieu have simply come through.
From the outset, they were deficient in plans and lacked the guts to do what was necessary to achieve even this level of reformist outcome. For this reason, their conduct will only appear as a betrayal to those who had (or promoted) illusions in what this section of the political milieu were capable of and intended to implement. In contrast, those who originally voted Syriza into government, knew that something radical was necessary in order to save the further economic rape of Greece by the finance-capital vultures circling them. They hoped Syriza would be as radical as necessary. The vote in the recent referendum indicated that the appetite for wanting some radical resistance to further austerity in Greece had increased to two-thirds of the population.
With this increasing majority of the population behind them the Syriza team decided to throw themselves and the Greek citizens at the mercy of the globalised financial vultures eyeing up the assets of Greece. Except, as was predictable, there is no mercy and no possible compromises with the representatives of a capitalist mode of production – particularly when it is in crisis. The increases in VAT, the pensions cuts, the further privatisations, labour-market reforms and public service cuts agreed by the Syriza team will ensure that the ordinary working people, white-collar and blue, of Greece will suffer further. Perhaps the only truly amazing thing to witness at that fateful Brussels meeting was that the overwhelming Greek citizen ‘no’ vote was so quickly transformed by Syriza’s political elite into a ‘yes’ outcome. They accepted the terms of those who had lost the vote and rejected the views of those who had given them a mandate. True colours!
Resignations and sackings quickly followed this coup de main and in fact the patched together compromises and alliances which make up the Syriza party is about to come apart as the party implodes. A bitter two-fold lesson is about to be learned by the citizens of Greece. The first lesson is that the right-wing representatives of the capitalist mode of production are merciless in the policies they promote to protect the system which currently serves them well. The second lesson is that those who ‘appear’ radical are – more often than not – left-wing representatives of the capitalist mode of production. Two sides of the same bourgeois coin. These lessons need to be learned by all the working people of Europe and the rest of the world for the same fate awaits them as the five-fold crisis of the capitalist mode of production continues to mature.
The demise of the reformist ‘left’.
An important part of the current crisis is in the re-emerging role of the bourgeois state as the capitalist system progresses into the 21st century. The post-Second World War state was reconstructed by the then dominant political elite to create something of a compromise between the needs of working people and the needs of the capitalist classes. That compromise was progressively abandoned during the 1970’s,1980’s and continues as the state was (and is) used to discipline working people and further the needs of capital – particularly the finance-sector. The European Economic Community with its free movement of capital and labour, was the logical extension of that process and had built into it the subordination of the powers of nation-states to that of the EEC as a whole – via its institutions and its monetary union.
The nation-states in Europe are now the means by which global capital, finance and industrial elite and their representatives assembled in Europe enforce their global policies upon the people of these territorial entities. The reformist left in Europe have bought into this new transformation and accepted its supposedly civilising mission. That is one reason why the Syriza leadership could not countenance leaving the Euro. This example illustrates how all the left reformists, well meaning or not, now find themselves astride a fundamental contradiction. On the one-hand they wish via national elections to return their respective debt-riddled bourgeois states to a period of compromise between labour and capital, but are prevented by the accumulated power of capital in Europe which requires the very opposite. As one oligarch (Schäuble) commented at a meeting ‘elections make no difference’.
This means that the project of national-based ’left’ reformist politics is now moribund as they can no longer deliver anything which is not in the interests of global capitalism – as interpreted by its European representatives. Only seriously radical, if not revolutionary measures, (and radical will have to become revolutionary) if this crisis for capitalism is not to be increasingly visited upon the working populations of Europe. The next in line for the same or similar treatment as Greece are the working populations of Spain, Portugal and Italy. It cannot have been far from the minds of the European elites that if they gave a compromise to Greece, then the Spanish and Portuguese populations would have expected the same. Hence they had an additional reason for being tough on Greece.
It also cannot be surprising that this draconian result for Greece will throw confusion in the direction of the reformist left in Spain and Portugal as well as all the other countries of Europe, for all of them are in debt-crises of varying magnitudes. Even without the EEC, the indebtedness of all the bourgeois nation-states in Europe and elsewhere, would prevent a reformist solution to the crisis of the capitalist mode of production. Such is the hegemony of bourgeois idealism, that revolutionary perspectives will be slow to enter into the calculations of ordinary working people, yet these will be ultimately necessary for any lasting solutions to the economic, social and ecological problems facing humanity. At least we are in a period in which ‘left’ reformism is increasingly displayed as being on its last legs and useless.
Roy Ratcliffe. (July 2015.)