Austerity was never going to be defeated by the vote. We don't live in an economic democracy, we live in an economic dictatorship where only those with vast wealth determine its course. Parliament provides a useful illusion, one that limits our dreams and stops us acting to make them a reality. The real defeat in Greece will not be the capitulation of Syriza but rather if that capitulation is broadly accepted as the end of the road of struggle.
The new Greek finance minister has tweeted that "Greece reforms' proposal sent to the Institutions and Eurogroup's Dijsselbloem" well ahead of the midnight deadline. If media reports are to be believed it appears the Syriza led government is offering massive further austerity cuts of 13 billion in return for some debt relief and a further 50 billion bailout.
The plans of the EU leadership for an engineered 'soft coup' are in tatters given the likely size of the OXI victory. They won't be able to pretend its a society 'divided down the middle'. The opposition leaders they hoped would head up a caretaker government are instead now under pressure to resign as it appears every district in Greece is voting NO.
Last night (2 July) the IMF in effect put its weight behind the Syriza government and the call for a No vote (OXI) in the referendum. An image of Chile's socialist president Allende, murdered in the 1973 US coup 'backing' the No vote captured for us both the contradictions and dangers of Sunday's vote in Greece.
Today, across Europe, the left is excited by the likelihood of Syriza topping the polls in the Greek election. Some on the left have gone so far as to suggest the election itself will mark the end of austerity policies, in the terminology of the Anglo left, an end to the idea that There Is No Alternative (TINA). Another indication that something of significance is happening is that ahead of the election a new wave of capital flight has started from Greece with an estimated 8 billion transferred out of the country over the last few weeks. [Translation into Greek]
It’s a confusing time to be on the revolutionary left as everything that was once certain turns to smoke. Technology has overturned & remade what constitutes effective communication & the construction of networks. Quite how to organise is no longer clear and old reference points of 1917, 1936 or even 1968 no longer provide definitive models.
What if we build it and they don’t come? That was the experience of the left during the crisis - decades had been spent building organisations and a model of how crisis would create revolution but when the crisis arrived the left discovered that the masses weren’t convinced. The expected pattern of crisis leading to small strikes and protests, then to mass strikes and riot and then perhaps to general strike and revolution didn’t flow as expected. Under that theory the radical left would at first be marginal but then as conditions drove class militancy to new heights the workers disappointed by reformist politicians and unions leaders would move quickly to swell its ranks.
Austerity Kills - the clear message sent out by the 'Spectacle of Defiance & Hope' display in front of last Saturday's Dublin Council of Trade Unions march against another austerity budget. The march itself was poorly attended, under 1000 people, and there was some really silly 'get our flags/ banners upfront' stuff going on from a few group both during the march and the speeches at the end.
I heard the historian Peter Linebaugh speak at the Struggles in Common discussions in Dublin yesterday and it triggered some thoughts on one of the key talking points of austerity, the need to make sure everyone works harder. Its a point you hear again and again on talk radio and which is made in internet debates whenever talk of cutting public services comes up. Even those working in public services often feel the need to agree that there is too much 'dead wood'. Yet at the same time increased automation means that there is less need for labour that there used to be. What is happening here?
Five years into an austerity program that is only working to make the rich richer, most of us are very unhappy about the lack of resistance from the unions. During the Croke Park campaign the SIPTU National Executive Council released a statement that included: "There is, of course, a wider issue of fairness in the Country as a whole because the wealthy are not contributing to the degree that they can or should. This is a consequence of the political choices made by the voters at election time.”