Some notes about the short time period before and after the greek referendum, the limits of the new state’s authority, the EU, the “new-model” of political parties and the bourgeois counter-revolution.
This article was published at the 30th issue of Apatris newspaper (July-August 2015)
“Do what you will, this world’s a fiction and is made up of contradiction” William Blake
History is full of conflicts which emerge from the contradictions of the social systems, as well as from contradictions resulting from social conflicts. The takeover of power from the reformist Left constitutes a big contradiction: SYRIZA, as the product of an already expressed (though defeated) social wrath, pursues Normality, while the big bosses aim for class conflict.
As a result, the reality of the Social War is crystallized as follows: SYRIZA, despite its attempts to come into agreement with the EU even on harsh terms, was forced to a deep rupture through the referendum, since the only other choice left was to surrender its authority. However, the final outcome was capitulation and agreement on a new memorandum.
Social democracy reached its limits as an economic model when the loans ended. Loans were taken out either by the state in order to deliver a falsified social justice, or by the proletarians on their attempt to achieve a fake social advancement. Now, thirty years later, payback time has come.
The takeover of power from the reformists of SYRIZA, their conflict with the EU Directorate and their following defeat shows merely the failure of the attempt to establish social justice through pacifistic routes.
The Big Capital doesn’t plan to give anything back, unless it gets forced to do so. Social welfare and the people-friendly legislation, implemented during the 70’s and 80’s, was the response of the system to the revolutionary and guerrilla groups which fought against capitalism, as well as to the Soviet regime. Today, without these two prerequisites, the peaceful resolution of social and humanitarian problems is totally unrealistic.
The coalition of “Yes” supporters is the political expression of contemporary totalitarianism, implementing anticommunist strategies and intimidation through the media, incarnating the party of the bourgeois counterrevolution.
In order to succeed, this mob employed all means possible, from organizing pacifistic demonstrations and police-friendly marches, up to direct blackmailing inside the workplace, with bosses making open threats about payment delays and even layoffs towards employees that were not in favor of “Yes”.
However, the “No” voters were not the only ones that stood against this mob. There were a lot of people who confronted them on the streets in cities like Athens (Syntagma square), Heraklion, Veria and Ioannina, people who managed to ridicule them at Thessaloniki and people who dismantled in many ways the terror imposed by the mainstream media. These people did not necessarily participate at the referendum, in many cases due to ideological-ethical reasons.
The descending of the “Yes” supporters to the streets is not something new. It’s another attempt of the most conservative parts of society to take over the public space. Modern Greek history is full of these examples.
During the 1920’s, in a period known as “the period of National Schism”, thousands of priests and monarchists were gathered at “Pedion tou Areos” park in Athens to censure prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos, hollering “Anathema” (Be damned).
During the Nazi occupation of Athens, thousands of bourgeois gathered at Syntagma square to demonstrate their opposition to communist guerillas EAM (the National Liberation Front) and the Resistance.
In the 90’s hundreds of thousands of people where gathered, protesting against the naming of Republic of Macedonia. During the same period, demonstrations were organized against the abolition of the inscription of religion on the modern National Identity Cards.
Actually, public gatherings of the so called “Europeanists” are comparable to the Nazi gatherings of Golden Dawn two years ago, as another attempt of the State to take the streets from the People or, in other words, to force counter-revolution into the public sphere.
Nazi-supporters and EU-supporters complement each other at their privileged fields: The neo-Nazis in the neighborhoods doing “grassroots work” and the “Europeanists” at Syntagma square attempting to intervene in the central political scene of Greece.
The only reason the demonstrations of “Yes” supporters did not result to open massive confrontations with the supporters of SYRIZA-AN.EL. (“Independent Greeks Party”) government is because none of both sides has a militant-rioting political culture (the culture of “street fighting”). The ones who have it, Anarchists, Stalinists and fascists, were absent.
Polarization of the social forces, expressed by “Yes” or “No”, can also convey another aspect of Class War: Individuals with bank deposits were siding for “Yes”, while the rest were in the camp of “No”.
Over the last years, humiliation of formal social democracy almost worldwide has provided fertile ground for the “new-model” parties with SYRIZA being a good example.
SYRIZA, like Podemos in Spain assimilates the slogans and the actions of the social movement, drafts new executive members coming from the social struggles, legitimizes the politics of delegation and strives to mitigate class conflict by disorienting the people through the implementation of administrative reforms, based on participatory democracy.
Especially in Greece, the defeat of social struggles, which took place in the recent past (2008 to 2013), led to a huge expansion of this type of political parties.
The conflict between EU Directorate and SYRIZA also had an additional aspect: The first “new-model” political party which took the power in Europe challenged the political status quo, by demanding the expansion of the political limits of EU and its integration as a capitalist reserve.
The prevalence of “No” can be considered at first glance as a positive sign; however it is not easy to predict how it will evolve. The deeply patriotic declamations and the exclusively nation-oriented discourse of SYRIZA, as well as the propaganda in favor of “No” supported both by AN.EL. Party nationalists and Golden Dawn neo-Nazis, are structural characteristics of a very problematic political situation. At the same time, the empowerment of SYRIZA (at least for the time being) makes it possible to pass new laws and memoranda relatively easily, since many people have been convinced through patriotic propaganda that all decisions of the government are in favor of the “national interest”. SYRIZA members, calling themselves “The continuators of the State”, never tried to hide their role as a backup solution for capitalism.
The fact that they have been legalized through the referendum as the political force that represents the lower classes of society, although there isn’t any practical change in everyday life (repression, humanitarian crisis, environmental degradation, detention camps, the rise of a totalitarian state), can be seen as the beginning of a new social contract which will engulf the remnants of the social movement and perpetuate its defeat.
The fact that the official propaganda overemphasizes certain aspects of social struggles, while the left narrative obscures them, does not mean that they do not exist. Thus, the role of the massive group of state employees (public servants) that participated in the anti-memorandum protests and played a crucial role in them has not yet been fully evaluated. This group in many cases defined the limits and the characteristics of the fight, while in the end found its political expression in SYRIZA (at least for the most part).
The collision between reformists and EU Directorate inevitably forces all political powers to take a stand. In this context, both the neo-Nazi Party of Golden Dawn and the Stalinist Party of KKE have clearly proved once more their opportunistic practices, which only their brainless supporters cannot comprehend. The neo-Nazis of Golden Down sided at first with the “Europeanists”, according to the proclamation of their leader, probably counting on the development of a new Euromaidan-like situation in Greece. However, they changed their position shortly after the referendum was announced, returning back to their well-known rhetoric of anti-memorandum nationalism. The Stalinists, after 40 years of tediously requesting the exit of Greece from the EU, chose abstinence from the referendum. This happened most probably for two reasons; firstly because they could not risk being assimilated by SYRIZA and secondly because they wanted to reassert their role as a political “crutch” of the system. After all, they played this treacherous role in the recent past, when they occupied Panteion University during the uprising in December of ’08, trying to mitigate the revolt, or when they lined up in front of the parliament during a general strike demonstration in Athens at 2012, trying to protect the building from the demonstrators.
During the tumultuous times of crisis in Greece several noteworthy phenomena have emerged, like the fact that certain by-products of the Greek political system, characterized mainly by their political adventurism, have started playing a significant role in the current developments.
A characteristic example on this category of politicians is Panos Kammenos, leader of a party with far-right rhetoric, AN.EL. (Independent Greeks), which participated in the government in collaboration with SYRIZA. In this coalition Kammenos was nominated as a Minister of National Defense. From this position he launched threats regarding a coup d’état, stating openly that the army is ready to suppress any popular uprising against the government.
In the above situation the members of SYRIZA stayed remarkably silent, probably because they prioritized their political goals, choosing to ignore the fact that they formed a government in collaboration with fascists.
Economic disfunctions, such as shutdown of the banks and capital controls, create a critical situation, in which the Order of this system is clearly challenged.
For the oppressed, this is (or at least should be) the time to materialize solidarity and self-organization as an answer to social cannibalism, which is partly reflexive and partly enforced from above. It is the time to revolt against the establishment of a military-police state.
For the capitalist system, economic instability becomes an opportunity to consolidate once more the purpose of its existence. In other words, the banks, which are the «holy totem» of capitalism, must become established as the «holy totem» of society, the only source of economic resources and thereby the only source of life into the Metropolitan desert.
The threat of defaulting is misleading, since it disregards certain aspects of social reality. After the economic war of the last five years, a significant part of the population is already bankrupt, at a level that either they do not have any income, or are indebted to the point that they are unable to pay off, or are even totally deprived from the status of citizenship. Judging from historical experience, it’s clear that defaulting doesn’t mean a total disaster, since a large part of society that’s already bankrupt will not experience a worsening condition for sure.
The situation in Greece cannot be interpreted merely as a class conflict, or exclusively as an internal conflict of the ruling elites. It might be true that the prevailing nation-oriented narrative about the crisis delimits the safe ground where “No” stands, but the situation is not similar at all with the controlled crises in the past, like the crisis in Turkey, when Erdogan got Turkey out of the IMF control, enhancing the power of his authority.
Finally, the fluctuations of the stock markets’ indexes and also the domino theory, remind us that, capitalism always was (and now more than ever) a volatile and contradictory economic system with its foundations based more on the theory of probability than to mathematical determinism and arithmetic calculations.
The perception of the “Europeanists” about bourgeois democracy is clearly revealed through their urge to sign any agreement, regardless of what is written within (Stavros Theodorakis and the political party Potami), or through the characterization of the current referendum as a “coup d’état” (coming from both Antonis Samaras, former PM and member of the conservative Party and E. Venizelos, former president of PASOK), and generally through their willingness to cede any political authority they have directly to the economic and political Directorate of EU and IMF.
It also becomes very clear that the EU Directorate point of action is according to their economic interests and nothing but, since they did not hesitate to intervene in the internal affairs of a sovereign state (Greece) in order to impose them.
The establishment of EU as a transnational economic union of states never left any space for leftist interpretations, with the latter appearing mostly for reasons of internal cohesion of the reformist left parties, rather than actually stepping on a solid basis. The political nonexistence of Eurocommunism is most likely an obvious proof of this point nowadays.
At present, even if the time of overcoming the illusion of a feasible, humane capitalism has not come yet, it is surely the time when the phantom of European Democracy is definitely dead.
The fact that a large part of the higher strata of bourgeois class is posing with a common political stance that’s pursued using both legitimate and unlawful means, signifies the establishment of an oligarchic elite patented after the corresponding lobbying groups of Russia, Ukraine and the rest of the former Soviet republics.
The Greek oligarchs (Latsis, Vardinogiannis, Alafouzos, Bobolas) own airports, national highways and critical infrastructure of the country, they control also political parties and single parliament representatives, football clubs and personal armies, industries and merchant fleets. Most of all, they own the entire media landscape, which engaged into a sordid intimidation and propaganda campaign against the people, based on broadcasting repeating scenes of misery and making a planned attempt to panic the elderly.
The role of the media is a first taste of how this oligarchy plans to enforce its policies as the economic recession deepens, and also a reminder that their existence constitutes an intensive social problem which must be solved at any cost. The masses of people shouting “Vagrants-Pimps-Journalists” (a slogan chanted only from anarchists in the past) at Syntagma square during the big demonstrations in favor of “No”, and also the contempt of a large part of the population towards the media, constitute positive advancements at this point that, apart from discrediting the soundboards of this specific political campaign of “Yes”, also favor the deconstruction of the basic tool the existing regime has for the imposition of its authority.
In conjunction with the pervasive terror of the media, there were sporadic attempts to inflict terror in everyday life. For example, Bazaar supermarket chain in Athens and also some other enterprises of its kind, were deliberately leaving the shelves of basic commodities empty, trying to intimidate the people and direct them to vote for “Yes”.
The definition of the referendum as an act of direct democracy is misleading. Direct democracy within a class-structured system consisting of individuals who have radically different and conflicting interests is self-contradictory. Additionally, the fact that we living in the times when class structure is loosely determined (bourgeois/proletarians) and instead there is a rise of numerous interest groups, the rule of majority cannot guarantee social justice. The story of two wolves and a lamb voting about their dinner is characteristic of the present situation.
The prevalence of “No” is also an episode of a series of struggles in which the subjects keep their illusions – capitalist regarding the aim, pacifist regarding the means – intact. Very soon this cycle will come to an end and will be superseded by the next one, which will most probably involve a change of the social model, either to a better or worse direction. Both Rojava Commune and ISIS constitute the antithetic aspects on the end of the era of illusions.
Every historical event evolves within a specific historical context. The dispute between the reformists and the leaders of global capital took place when the inherent defect of capitalism, which is the inability to expand infinitely, came forward and created a structural crisis. While the new authority deceives the subservient classes claiming there is an alternative solution of the social problem without violence and revolutions, the Beast consumes its flesh in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Ukraine and Libya in order to restructure again over the dead bodies lying on scorched earth.
Some additional notes about the latest advancements – July 2015
The incomprehensible, at first thought, decision of SYRIZA to throw away the enormous political advantage -which also had global impact – that was gained through the result of the referendum, and reduce it to a shameful Historic Compromise, arose from the very nature of itself. SYRIZA materialized as a political formation with the objective to fill in the gap that was created on the center-left of the Greek political spectrum, making use of the tools, the political audience, the networking and also the political members which center-left (PASOK) used, with the final aim to become the Regulator of social stability, and this is the reason it was created on the first place. The aversion of SYRIZA to clash in any manner with the “Deep State”, while in power, reveals that this political formation is at its limits. Moreover, the lack of any planning ahead for the possibility of a final breach with EU institutions fully confirms the above point. Therefore, a clean break with the EU overcomes the very nature of this formation, which finally results to an unconditional surrender.
The volatile situation which emerged after the referendum, revealed the role that every political formation is planned to perform. At the peak of the political crisis, the conservative parties unabashedly defended the interests of the class they represent. The president of the conservative opposition party “New Democracy” stated, “Without a final agreement, the forces representing the bourgeois class are bound to intervene”, while the reformist left made clear that its actions will be guided by the spirit of national reconciliation.
The parliamentary approval of the third Memorandum, without the authorization of both the people and the National Commission of SYRIZA Party, and also of the majority of the MP’s of SYRIZA, plays a key role in the crisis of political representation in Greece, which remains to be seen in which way is going to transcend. The artificial destabilization attempts, like the “revelation” from some mainstream media that an alleged conspiracy was planned from the dissident SYRIZA members of “Left Platform” faction to invade into the national treasury, are products of the parastatal shadowy plans that try to overcome this problem and normalize the situation through a spectacular form of “strategy of tension”. In the same direction -having in mind that this is a long-term strategy- is the inevitable strengthening of Golden Dawn neo-Nazis.
The “Left Platform” faction that withdrew from SYRIZA is also another opportunistic political power, which sooner or later will be forced to face its inconsistencies. Given that it doesn’t even slightly deal with the deterministic economic analysis of the social question, but merely boosts it by turning it into a question about the currency, in a short time will be put in front of the same questions which the reformists were forced to answer.
The historical compromise signed by the leaders of the reformists will inevitably lead to their political disdain. Independently of the length of time that they will stay in power, reformists are incapable to consent (even for a short term period) to a new social contract, and through this to a new establishment of normality again.
Essentially, in a very short time another reserve of Capitalism goes up in flames, leaving space for the real social struggles to take place, instead of their spectacular representation.