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Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 1145
July 17, 2015

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The Real Plan B:
The New Greek Marathon

Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch

In the face of being excluded from desperately needed funds and the threat of being kicked out of the European Union, the Greek parliament has now voted to accept the Troika memorandum. The Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras acknowledged – unlike social democrats choosing to implement neoliberalism as part of their ‘modernization‘ – that this was ‘a bad deal’ forced on the Greeks. Syriza's MPs were divided although three quarters of them followed Tsipras and voted yes. Outside in Syntagma Square thousands of angry demonstrators gathered and then marched through downtown Athens, this time the ‘NO’ being reserved for rejecting the memorandum. There is a strong current of dissent in the Syriza party Central Committee, which has yet to meet. Yet there is also a general sense we get from party members and supporters at all levels we have talked with here that the government should be supported and continue in office.

In the face of these divisions and frustrations, what if anything might be done to revive and continue Syriza's struggle against neoliberalism? And since neoliberalism is what capitalism is today – there is no other kind – what can be done to lay the basis for ending capitalism? This is not just a question for Greeks, though crucial aspects of this dilemma are of course specific to Greece, but for how the left everywhere thinks about and responds to the challenges of coming to power in a hostile environment to try to protect people from the worst depredations of neoliberalism, and tries to embark on ‘really-existing transitions’ to a more egalitarian, solidaristic, substantively more democratic world.

Sections of the Greek left and a good part of the international left have argued that the deal should have been rejected, and Grexit embraced instead. This opens up a number of scenarios but the most likely would be the government resigning, calling new elections, and Syriza running on a program that reversed its former support for staying in the eurozone. Whether or not the party would win, its credibility would, according to this argument, be maintained and it would at least live to fight another day.

Exiting the Euro, Leaving the State

We would not dismiss the above argument out of hand. It reflects legitimate emotional sentiments and strategic orientations. Until recently, however, three of four Greeks opposed Grexit, and even if this has shifted dramatically with the referendum and its aftermath, there is no clear and deep consensus on leaving. Tsipras and a good part of the leadership is, in this regard, not simply ‘tailing’ the public but deeply committed to Europe on both economic and cultural grounds. For those of us who have long argued that eventual exit is essential, especially from a socialist perspective, the challenge is not so much to condemn this but to ask: When is the right moment to take this on? What practical steps, ideological and in terms of state capacities, might be argued for now to move the party and its base toward a consensus?

As for counselling Syriza to risk losing its governing status, it needs to be noted that Syriza already faced this question in the run up to the 2012 elections, and concluded that the responsible decision was to enter the state and do everything it could to restrain the neoliberal assault from within the state. Its electoral breakthrough that year was based on Tsipras's declaration that Syriza was not just campaigning to register a higher percentage of the vote but determined to form a government with any others who would join with it in stopping the economic torture while remaining within Europe. It was only when it came close to winning on this basis, that Syriza vaulted to the forefront of the international left's attention, and by the following summer, Tsipras was chosen by the European Left Parties to lead their campaign in the 2014 European Parliament elections. Syriza's subsequent clear victory in Greece in this election foretold its victory in the Greek national election of January 2015, when it became the first and only one of all the European left parties to challenge neoliberalism and win national office.

Even apart from the humanitarian measures it immediately introduced without allowing the Troika's representatives to vet the legislation, the very attempt by the new government to challenge the Troika has helped expose the neoliberal essence of the EU and to generate discussions on what the alternatives, however difficult to imagine, might be. It strikes us as premature to conclude from the denouement to this five month challenge that was finally reached this week, however sobering it has been, that it is better for Syriza to leave the state to its bourgeois opponents. It seems better to move beyond outrage and protest, let alone resignation, and instead struggle with what kinds of changes remain possible in the state to support the needs of the majority of Greek people who voted OXI in the referendum, and to contribute to the much-needed further development of their already powerfully demonstrated capacities for solidarity and innovation. Without this a productive path out of the eurozone, and perhaps even the EU, to escape neoliberalism would be inconceivable. It is this, not just surreptitiously making plans for a new currency, that properly preparing for Grexit would really need to be about.

Those advocating an exit from the euro acknowledge that there will be costs. Yet they also tend to understate, sometimes rather glibly, the chaos this would entail especially for a state steeped in two centuries of clientalist practices. Along with this comes an exaggeration of what exiting the euro would, in itself, achieve. The economics of a new devalued currency are sure to lead to high inflation and further dramatic reductions in living standards, nor can it of itself produce new competitive industries. Where the depth of the crisis is as severe as it is in Greece, and partly rooted there in the very restructuring of its economy that came with its deeper integration into Europe, changes in the currency are unlikely to restore old industries or develop new ones. It is worth remembering how many states with their own currencies are unable to withstand the ravages of neoliberalism.

That the options open to the Syriza government are even more limited by the way the new memorandum is structured to cruelly discipline Greece's integration into neoliberal Europe is obvious enough. It should also be increasingly obvious to those in the party whose commitment to the EU was foundational that staying in the eurozone is inconsistent with restraining neoliberalism's negative impact on most Greeks. It is much to be hoped that Syriza, and the European Left Parties in general, will abandon the notion that an even more centralized transnational European state would be more progressive. But it does not follow from any of this that it would be correct for Syriza to lead a Grexit right now, without a much deeper preparation for dealing with the consequences.

What about resigning from office to free itself from administering the memorandum? It would be highly irresponsible, having entered the state in the first place promising to try to at least ameliorate the effects of neoliberalism in Greece, to step down now after what has been imposed on the Syriza government for its anti-neoliberal orientation and its democratic temerity in calling the referendum. This only deepens its responsibility to do all it still can to restrain the impact of neoliberalism. To do otherwise would be to acquiesce in the goal of those who tried to use the negotiations as a way to bring this government down.

Toward a Real Plan B

The point we are getting at is that framing the issue in terms of an exhausted Plan A (negotiating with Europe) and a rejection of the euro (Plan B) is too limited a way to frame the dilemmas confronting Syriza. What the deeper preparation for leaving the eurozone, and possibly also the EU, actually entails is to build on the solidarity networks that have developed in society to cope with the crisis as the basis for starting to transform social relations within Greece. That is the real plan B, the terrain on which both Syriza and the social movements might re-invigorate now. What, more concretely, might this mean?

The recent years of struggle have developed the famous grassroots solidarity movement that began – as all organizing must – by addressing the needs of people. Out of this grew the some 400 solidarity groups all across Greece addressing basic community needs through self-organized democratically run collectives which provide support for people's health, food, housing and other needs. Syriza members were among those deeply involved in establishing and maintaining the solidarity networks and its MPs elected in 2012 contributed 20 per cent of their salaries to them. But since the Syriza government was elected this year it has done very little to change and use the state so as to sustain and broaden this remarkable movement.

Two leaders of the ‘Solidarity for All’ assembly of these groups told us how frustrated they were that they could not even get from the Ministry of Agriculture the information they need on the locations of specific crops so they might approach a broader range of farmers and develop more direct links between them and people in need. Only 12 people in total are employed in working for Solidarity for All – their numbers should be multiplied with the state's help. The military trucks sitting idle between demonstrations could be used to facilitate the distribution of food through the solidarity networks as a way of offsetting some of the cuts to the poorest pensioners, and of compensating for the increased VAT on food imposed by the latest memorandum. Various state departments could be engaged in identifying idle land – of which there is plenty in the countryside and in light of the crisis also in urban areas – which could be be given over to community co-ops to create work in growing food, and coordinating this across sub-regions.

The Ministry of Education should be actively engaged in promoting the use of schools as community hubs that provide spaces for the social movements organizing around food and health services, and also to provide technical education appropriate to this. We talked with many students who were clearly enthusiastic about working in the community but were also quick to admit that while they were adept at competing in student union elections and good at distributing pamphlets and organizing demonstrations, their skills for longer-term community organizing were very limited. The Ministry of Education could help overcome this by setting up special programs to prepare students to spend periods of time in communities, contributing to adult education and working on community projects.

Similarly, the privatizations forced on the Greek state should be accompanied by requirements that the new owners make a compensating commitment to establish industrial parks where new jobs might be created. Privatized firms might be required to source inputs inside Greece, while the state's own purchases of furniture, materials and supplies (including for schools and hospitals) might be sourced from new production units set up this way. With so many structures standing idle and under-used (like the Olympic sports facilities), all manners of co-ops and small businesses should be supported in setting up operations in them, aided by groups of young architects and engineers recruited to reconfigure these spaces. The U.S. New Deal Work Projects Administration could serve as an example not only in this respect, but especially in respect to the broad range of artistic, theatrical and cultural activities in which so many unemployed young people are already engaged.

We do not want to overstate this. These experiments would not themselves be 'solutions’. And they would no doubt lead to objections that they negate the intent of the new memorandum's structural adjustment demands. But seen strategically, they invite a constructive approach to linking the state to communities in new ways that would offset the black and grey markets which might otherwise overwhelm an economy that moved out of the eurozone. And it helps lay the foundation for a new stage in addressing the domestic barriers imposed by the inequalities of wealth and private property, and concretizes the need for investment planning and public ownership so as circulate society's social surplus to local, regional and sectoral institutions.

Conclusion: Leadership of a New Kind

The Syriza government currently retains a store of good will, even if this has been damaged by the memorandum. To prevent the further erosion of that popular support it will need to concretely counter the Troika-imposed legislation. For every negative bill it puts forth it should creatively put forth a positive bill that confirms its continuing commitment to the fight against neoliberalism. Syriza's ministers must never depart from treating the negative impositions as something positive, and indeed be expected to act as socialist educators, helping people grasp the barriers to improving their lives and raising rather than lowering long term expectations by continuing to attack neoliberalism and speak to a socialist vision of solidarity and democracy. And it is this that should inspire and guide the transformation of state structures away from the old clientalism.

None of this can happen unless Syriza as a party develops the orientation and capacities to lead the Greek state and society in this direction. We have met with people in the party and social movements, as well as the state, who are concerned that Syriza falls well short in this respect. Among the various reasons for being critical of Syriza, this is the most significant. •

Sam Gindin is adjunct professor and Leo Panitch is distinguished research professor at York University, Canada. They co-authored The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire (Verso). Both are currently in Athens, Greece.


#18 Toby 2015-07-23 21:08 EST
Thank you and..
Normally I would never read comment sections, but many here help fill out the analysis in helpful ways. I greatly appreciate the thinking you are offering here Leo and Sam. Yet, of course, clearly the barriers are huge and Tsipras is looking weak from a left perspective. I'm worried turning toward the contradictory politics of the petty-bourgeois will create dangerous ideological terrain.

#17 Jason Schulman 2015-07-21 23:39 EST
Alchemists of revolution
I suggest those who think that the dictatorship of the proletariat, let alone immediate Grexit, is a real possibility in Greece in 2015, read the following link very carefully:

Why the Greek Government Rejects a Grexit

There are things which the Syriza government has not done which it could and should do. But we should not demand the impossible.

#16 Geoff Bickerton 2015-07-19 04:55 EST
Who will lead the struggle against austerity?
It is too early to assess the impact of the agreement on Greek politics. It is quite possible that Golden Dawn will be the main beneficiary. This would be a real tragedy for Greece and all of Europe. It is equally unlikely that Tsipras and Syriza will maintain their credibility as leaders of the anti-austerity struggle. But we shall see.

What we do know is that the upcoming weeks will witness the negotiations for the details of the bailout. Despite the promises of Syriza cabinet ministers to achieve a "socially just" agreement it is likely that the actual terms will be significantly more draconian than what appeared in the initial accord. It is the Troika, after all, that is firmly in the drivers seat.

Soon Greeks will learn what assets are to be included in the $70-Billion (Canadian) privatization plan. The exact provisions of the labour law changes will be revealed. The impact of the new taxes and social service cuts will hit home. The pain will worsen as the economy declines further.

Tsipras will blame the Germans, the capitalists and the oligarchs. But who will lead the fight against austerity? Is it wishful thinking to believe that Tsipras and Syriza will be capable of leading the struggle for workers rights while simultaneously implementating the austerity measures which are part of the agreement he signed and has pledged to uphold?

We shall see.

#15 Sotiris 2015-07-18 19:53 EST
A non-existing alternative
Panitch and Gindin describe something that, neither exists, nor can take place, right now in Greece. The solidarity groups are, exactly what their name states: solidarity groups and not means for the transformation of society. They were, and unfortunately still are, a way to create a safety net against austerity and impoverishment. They were mainly created by people of the (societal or political) left.They may help a lot of people, but this doesn't mean that they enagage all this people in their activity. And they can't do this. The safety nets exist to create safety, not to transform the society, especially if there isn't an undergoing project for the tranformation of the society!

The writters know very well that societies don't transform their selfs out of will, but out of nessecity. The will for the transformation comes from the left and becomes material force when it is met with the feeling of the nessecity by the broad masses of the people. You can't have two projects undergoing from the left: one of the internal devaluation, impoverishment and austerity (memoranda) and one of the transformation of the social relations. This is scizo... And is impossible in the REAL society: "Hi, I'm with the government letting banks take your house (permitting auctions for the "primary residence", is one of the new measures...), but let's fight together against them, or come to our self-organized hospital now that you have to pay for the rent". That simple! I could argue using more "orthodox" arguements, but I can't do this anymore.

If our comrades outside Greece, cannot understand what it means for the left to implemnt HUGE budget cuts, to destroy the last remnants of labor law, to privatise everything in Greece, to implement higher taxes for the poor (because poor people will have the biggest problem from the increase in VAT), to establish a "fiscal board" which automaticly will "regulate" revenues whenever the projected budget incomes fall short, to commit itself that it will not restore collective bargains, to cancel whatever legislation voted during last five months that challenged the "will of the Institutions", to ASK THE PERIMISSION OF TROIKA FOR EVERY NEW LAW (and this is part of the deal, not something that "I presume from the relation of forces"), then I don't have something more to say. This is another way to accept TINA.

#14 Nicos Trimikliniotis 2015-07-18 06:23 EST

I like Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch's effort to inject a constructive approach into a polarised society where the Left is in a strategic impasse, a fragmented Left riddled in its own contradictions and which has internalised the many and deep historic defeats and fractionalism that has characterised it.

However, I think that it is wishful thinking to think that Tsipras has any chance or will to somehow survive as an anti-austerity force; Elias Ioakimoglou has demonstrated this very articulate manner [“Goodbye Tsipras!”]. I think that the paper by Gindin and Panitch fails to take into account of the following factors:

(1) The Memorandum as a policy-and-institutional apparatus is much more resilient and provides for such levels of control of implementation that it will not be possible to mirror the austerity package with any real counter-measures, such as the one proposed by the authors. Let's not forget that the instruments of policy are in neoliberal hands (e.g. fiscal policy, Central Bank, other institutions etc.) and that the state is very much ingrained and soaked within the EU and NATO, as Panitch rightly analysed in another article ["The Denouement"].

(2) The state and institutions in Greece are so problematic and ingrained that need a radical shake up if one is to use them as an effective instrument of egalitarian policy. Such radical 'reform' cannot occur under the tutelage of the EU neoliberal regime but outside it.

(3) The societal factor in the processes of the raping of the democratic will of the Greek people who voted 62% NO is difficult to measure. However, we can be sure that the processes of de-legitimising democratic processes, transferal of conflicts that can no longer be expressed via the democratic channels after the (under duress) Tsipras U-turn will be immense and unpredictable. This societal factor is absent from the public debates: Don't forget the anti-power enclaves and traditions; the 2008 mass violent eruptions; don't forget the fires etc... This is a society soaked in a long-term crisis and the latest 5-year austerity crisis has shattered and fragmented in ways that only a radical push forward can bring back any faith in any democratic-progressive process. The Tsipras u-turn has a major disintegration effect on the socio-political and has destroyed any potential for an anti-austerity Left/progressive pole in politics with Syriza as its core.

(4) Tsipras 'talk Right, walk Right' [the only he does now in order to retain, to the extent that he can, any ‘Left credentials’] cannot take him very far. It is true that, at least for the time being, he is hegemonic and if there were elections he would probably win and succeed to out his Left critics within the party as it appears that there is no credible opposition from either side of the political spectrum. However I would like to point to point to the following:

a. He does not have real command over his party (which is not really a party but an alliance of different anti-austerity groups]
b. He is now increasingly becoming an anti-democratic and authoritarian leader of the A. Papandreou type and may well become a kind of Greek Ramsay MacDonald: I cannot see how he can justify how he dares to implement a policy when 109 members of his 2005 Central Political Committee] and
c. Let's not forget that not long ago he was leading a party of 3% - his switching sides may trigger off processes where another small party or an unknown person becomes a Hegemon in no time!

Unless the anti-austerity Left and this means all those who posed the 3rd Memorandum of Tsipras must regroup and muster a realistic alternative, including an exit strategy for the Eurozone as ‘real plan B’, there are major dangers looming. There are different dangers -- some are simply unpredictable. However, we can predict some following the eventual defeat for the Left. This is bigger than Greece; as this may be a historic setback that works a ‘negative example’: given that any opposition is liquidated by dissolution and disappointment we can see a possible emergence of the far right, rise in racism, and/or other authoritarian 'fixers'. It is also possible that there is a transfer of violence in different forms in society. In Greece the above are very likely.

The Left within Syriza must get its act together: I understand that it is somehow stuck there as it cannot make up its mind on how far to push Tsipras. They are worried that if they push too far and cause an election: this will cause major destabilization and no one wants to take the blame for this; it may also mean that they will be forced out and Tsipras may win the day or become a Ramsey MacDonald in alliance with the austerity parties.

Nonetheless, the anti-austerity in Greece is forced to engage with society including the forces within and outside Syriza, such as KKE and ANTARSYA and other groups, no matter how difficult this is. A real alternative is necessary; this has to be credible and open-ended; here I agree with the authors that a real Option B is needed for society to be ready. But this is a matter that goes beyond Syriza, or Greece. It is global issue and the Left has to engage.

#13 Harry Kopyto 2015-07-18 00:44 EST
The missed road to a socialist Greece
While Syriza is in government, it is not and never was in power. Power lies with the Greek Bank accountable ultimately to the Eurocrats and outside parliamentary jurisdiction. Power also lies with the Greek oligarchs residing in London and elsewhere with their millions in tax-free havens. Still, Syriza could have used its political authority in parliament to educate the Greek population as to the limits of its influence as a parliamentary party and the need for mass struggle to uproot the capitalist state which it was legally bound to administer.

Syriza should clearly remain in government but not to do the dirty work for the Eurocrats as it now believes it must. Instead of following its five month strategy of begging for concessions, Syriza needed to develop a perspective that could have led the radicalized Greek workingclass to deepen its resistance to the onslaught through transitional demands tied to a vision of socialism including public ownership of the Greek banks. Only that could break through the private property relations that form the economic foundation for their exploitation. Syriza failed that critical test, was unable to even tread water, ignored massive signals that Greek workers were moving to the left despite fears generated about Grexit and, with all its ineffectual manoeuvring, demobilized the population creating confusion and discord.

More than anything, Syriza's election posed a political challenge to European capitalism and had to be quashed for that reason before it became an example to others. The only option Syriza had was to synthesize a bold political program appealing to the growing minority of workers willing to take a leap -- with or without a Grexit -- into socialist transformation. The workers were not expecting a rose garden -- they were willing to takes risks to excoriate despair.

Revolutions don't take place through consensus. The dynamics of the struggle eventually bring the majority with it. The self-organization of the Greek workers that Sam Ginden and Leo Panitch highlight need political leadership and focus to be effective as a transforming agent. It didn't happen. And now, there are important lessons to be learned.

#12 ken 2015-07-17 20:57 EST
A Grexit
An interesting analysis. However, I think that accepting Schäuble's offer of a Grexit would have been a better option than the deal that Syriza accepted (see

Syriza negotiating tactics were a disaster. Tsipras and Varoufakis continually said they would do anything for a deal. This signals to the other side that they need give little or nothing. There was no substantial planning for a plan B or Grexit nor was the idea used as a lever to get a better deal. The creditors had such a plan. While a majority of Greeks wanted to stay in the zone, Syriza could have demonstrated that any chance of escaping austerity policies were virtually nil, and that only through a Grexit was there any hope of freedom, and dignity in the future. Perhaps the people would not have followed but it would be better to try that than accept an abject defeat. There appeared to be no plan in the negotiations and no discipline with issues such as privatization being a red line one minute and not the next. It should have been clear early in the negotiations that nothing substantial was to be had from the creditors but Syriza kept on anyway. They ended up in default and being bled to death by the EU control of liquidity. The result was an outrageous deal that negates everything the party stood for, or no deal at all and a possible Grexit. Surely the choice they made is indefensible.


I was going to make the same point as George Stathis. The Greek parliament has no control of its legislation. Not only that they are required to look at previous legislation that may have gone counter to their present commitments and they will be required to rescind any laws that do so. Does anyone know why Syriza would agree to cut only 200 million euros from the defense budget when the creditors were demanding 400 be cut?

#11 George Stathis 2015-07-17 19:24 EST
In theory, correct; in practice, not so...
A very rational analysis like this may look like a solution, but in Greece it looks like wishful thinking; it isn't going to work.

It is wrong anyway, to suggest or hope that "For every negative bill it puts forth it [the government] should creatively put forth a positive bill that confirms its continuing commitment to the fight against neoliberalism." (as you wrote).
Any so-called "positive bill" will be scrutinized by the Troika and only when the Troika gives its approval it can be implemented. The most likely outcome is that it will not be approved, so it won't even reach parliament.

Greece's only hope, at a macro-political level (without underestimating the micro-political level of grass-roots movements and self-managed cooperatives)... still is an exit from the euro, this time advocated openly, either by a new unifying political movement, or else by SYRIZA itself, after Tsipras and the current leadership are removed.

However, we don't expect anything good any more, from Tsipras and his team; their corruption and their unwillingness to implement even the most mild progressive reforms, are evident. Not even Panoussis, the extreme-right-wing Minister of Police activities, was removed from office (as the youth-section of SYRIZA repeatedly demanded).

#10 Larry Kazdan 2015-07-17 17:20 EST
Quo vadis Syriza?
Implementing painful Troika directives and harmful austerity and at the same time attempting to organize a socialist revolution seem to me incompatible goals, a heavy burden to place on Syriza which could well be discredited. But I certainly hope the authors are correct, and that Syriza will make Grexit planning an immediate priority:

"Even if the latest deal is softened and holds for a few months – under the formal aegis of a wounded Syriza-led government, or not – it won't last. Sooner or later Greece will be forced out of the euro, or leave of its own accord. The only question is who will control that process."

#9 Peter G. Prontzos 2015-07-17 15:32 EST
Thank you for a very lucid and constructive analysis of Syriza and the challenges that they, and Greece, must deal with. It is so important for progressives in Europe and around the world to counter the lies of the Euro-elites, to support the people of Greece, and to build their own democratic movements.

(Note: On a visit to Vancouver a few years ago, Joao Pedro de Stedile, of Brazil's MST, was asked how Canadians can support the struggle of people in the "developing" world. His response: "Get rid of your neoliberal governments."

#8 Anonymous 2015-07-17 15:17 EST

Canada has been borrowing from the likes of Germany for years and we need to take heed; keep away from these predators. Pay them off and get out. It has cost us $trillion in interest for which we have nothing. Never again borrow abroad, but if we must, from ourselves.

#7 Jim MacFarlan 2015-07-17 15:07 EST
Thanks to Leo and Sam
Hi Leo,Sam,
Thank you for your continuing excellent analysis of the situation in Greece. When some voices on the left ,both in Canada and elsewhere, seem unable to articulate a clearly thought out Socialist perspective and become mired in despondency or become simply bitter toward Tsipras and Syriza , your analysis is clear and helpful.

#6 Anonymous 2015-07-17 11:13 EST

I am unsure who these articles are being written for, and what is really being addressed in them. From my point of view the authors have simply set up their opponent through straw men arguments, and then the authors tear those straw men down as if real analytic work is being done. I am not sure anybody is fooled by this except the authors.

#5 Ken Kalturnyk 2015-07-17 10:12 EST
Plan B
Sam and Leo,
Thanks for this analysis. It's the best and most thorough I've seen to date, both in terms of the situation facing Syriza and in terms of Syriza's strengths and weaknesses. It actually makes me a lot less pessimistic about the prospects for Syriza and for Greece. If Syriza does half of what you propose, I'll have to change my opinion about them being left social democrats.
Hopefully Syriza can survive as an organization and retain the trust of the Greek people. It may at least open up some options for the future.

Thanks again for this.

#4 Bob Ages 2015-07-17 10:07 EST
A welcome dose of reality
Thanks Sam and Leo for a welcome dose of economic and social reality. For many "rads" the revolution is so distant and unreal it is easy to create fantasies rather than deal with the concrete issues facing ordinary people in these times. Compared to the requirements of building real alternatives from the material conditions existing under neoliberal capitalism the mere taking of state power is relatively easy.

In my view Grexit is a necessary condition for recovery and a decent (socialist) society but as you point out it is not a sufficient condition.

#3 Gilberto dL 2015-07-17 09:41 EST
faith in Syriza?
Really? Your loyalty to Syriza is very "touching" but after 6 months of Tsipras negotiations with the EU, I think we know enough about Syriza to say that the real left needs to distance itself from those policies. The issue isn't whether to stay or leave the EU but about controlling the commanding heights of the economy i.e. nationalizing the banking system that colluded with the bankster-gangsters of the EU and Greece. Instead, Syriza prostrated itself and wound up advocating for a more severe austerity deal than the parties the Greeks ousted based on Syriza's anti-austerity platform while turning it's back on the popular will that had outflanked it to the left. The issue of nationalizing the banking system was regarded by Marxists as key in the Paris Commune and the Spanish Revolution. jeeez? Are you guys communist?

#2 Anonymous 2015-07-17 09:25 EST

These are very interesting and constructive comments. Many of us in the EU who are trying to use the concepts of "Social Europe" as a counterbalance to the neoliberal agenda which dominates are aware of the contradictions of that position -- but also that it is very hard to see an exit from the EU that does not put us in the camp of the "Little Englanders" and similar ideologues. It feels like we are clinging to the remnants of social democracy because the only alternative is an appalling vista. The people of Greece have given us hope -- and despite the memorandum, from this distance, it doesn't seem like the fight is over. The historic class defeat was the new world order of the 80s and 90s. Let's hope this is just the end of the beginning of the fightback -- today Greece, tomorrow who knows?

#1 Yianni Andronicos 2015-07-17 02:18 EST
Light on the hill
I agree with your comments, but what the nation needs now is for the government to articulate and lay out a strategy to give hope that there is a brighter future. The judiciary and government beurocracy needs to be reformed to stamp out corruption and tax evasion. Whether or not we stay in the eurozone, Greece needs a fair and equitable tax system that can then provide for the countries social, medical and economic needs.

The question I would like answered is - what would Greece look like today not having joined the Eurozone and still paying 18-20% interest rates, with the same level of corruption and not paying taxes, would it have been forced to implement reforms by itself a lot earlier?

I visit Greece for four months a year, it is where my roots are, I love the place, but I despair with the level of corruption which is obvious on the island I live.

This is not sustainable, my view is that strict penalties and jail sentences need to be given out to discourage unlawful practices. I am sick and tired of hearing others say it is a Greek trait, this is disproved by the Greek diaspora who are successful and law abiding citizens in other countries where proper and enforced systems are in place.

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