Alexis Tsipras, one time star of student government and summer stock before graduating to bourgeois government and dinner theater, has pulled off what one of his predecessors could only dream of doing: posing the demands of the EU for the impoverishment of current and future generations as a referendum for the “people” to vote upon.
George Papandreou thought he would put those terms in a referendum back in 2011 only to get called to Cannes and on the carpet by Nicolas and Angela Sarkozy-Merkel. Good dog that he was, and is, Papandreou abandoned the idea of a referendum, and his premiership.
Papandreou thought he was saving his country, first with the referendum proposal, and then in resigning his premiership. Self-delusion is the most important element of self-aggrandizement.
Tsipras’ target is not quite as lofty, but his aim is better. His actions are about saving himself and his party, or rather his position in the party. By calling for the referendum, Slick Alexis avoids a confrontation with the “left” of Syriza and finesses the possibility of split that will lead to a no-confidence vote in his government. The proposal for a referendum is the one action Tsipras can take to the parliament for authorization that does not risk party discipline
The referendum is proposed for July 5, five days after the current memorandum expires, and with it any further release of funds under the terms of that agreement. So….
…all those “left” posers who have been arguing that “there is no alternative;” that Syriza has to negotiate an extension to the memorandum, not matter how painful, or “things will get worse,” now have to explain away the fact that apparently there is an alternative, and all it takes is a referendum.
…all those socialist/keynesian/democratic/responsible “leftists” who have been arguing that Greece is a “dependent economy,” inextricably tied to, not Europe, but the European Union, will now have to explain that why, if Greece is a “dependent economy,” the vote should not be for approving the Troika’s demands.
Not that things won’t get worse. Not that thing’s haven’t already become worse. But “getting worse” is irrelevant when the current and future condition of social welfare, of living standards, of health care, of education, was, is, and will remain catastrophic.
So what matters is the action taken by and through the organizations of the class that is forced to confront the continuing catastrophe for what it is– capitalism.
For the six months of its elected life, Syriza has struggled mightily, in a mirror image of the bourgeoisie’s proposals for a “stronger” monetary, fiscal, and economic union, to “ringfence” the issue of the sovereign debt: to separate the debt from the preservation of capitalism. The Troika was having none of that. They knew that no such separation exists– that the debt is the product of dependence; is the connection of Greece’s economy to the European Union; compresses the entire history of Greece’s relations with the “Great Powers” of Europe.
Syriza is a failure. The referendum is Syriza’s admission of failure. The referendum should not be boycotted. It must be converted from a vote on the Troika’s demands into a repudiation of the debt in its entirety; a repudiation of the European Union for what it is– a bloc of the bourgeoisie; the repudiation of the euro for being what it is– the means of transferring wealth from the weak to the strong; the repudiation of Syriza for being what it is– a vehicle for obstructing the social revolution against capital.
June 27, 2015