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For a Hellenic Socialist Revival

Greece and SYRIZA, at this juncture right before the elections, Sept. 2015
For a Hellenic Socialist Revival
o- Brief condensed notes on the current situation
o- This short paper is intended for people who have an interest in and a capacity for studying, thinking, and challenging preconceived notions.
Date: Tue, 8 Sep 2015
From: Barbara Deutsch
To: Petros Evdokas,
Subject: thinking you might like to read this...
...and maybe post a comment about it?
Syriza: can’t lead, won’t lead
Alexis Tsipras and Co are the acceptable faces of EU technocracy
Tim Black, deputy editor
with good wishes
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Thanks Barbara,
This is my response in somewhat condensed form, only "for the most brave" of our readers, comrades and colleagues. Please feel free to post and publish this paper wherever you think it's appropriate.
I studied the article you sent by Tim Black. It's a good point of departure for dialogue, but it does not even begin to deal with what is needed for Greece right now. Greece is in the throes of a crisis that precedes an even more severe crisis to come if things don't change soon: it is a crisis of life and death, right now, for millions of people. It's beyond ideologies, parties, dogmas. Solutions can only be found in the context of massive popular mobilizations and only if those take place with a spirit of national unity, class solidarity and guided by the principles of feminism; ecology; direct democracy; socialism and anarcho-communism; and an ethnic, national and cultural Hellenic revival guided by internationalism. Only such mobilizations can save the country now, and only if they begin to actualize (make tangible) some of the political ideas explored in the narrative below.
In January of this year, I had a short conversation with Bill Ayers about the situation developing in Greece, especially focused on the perspectives being opened up with the election of Alexis Tsipras and SYRIZA coming to power. That short conversation gave birth to this article listed below, which was published by Cyprus IndyMedia just as the new Prime Minister was swearing in his new "peoples' Cabinet".
The article goes over some of the weaknesses of the party; some of its perceived political positions (platform); it explores the possibility that Tsipras and SYRIZA might simply be liars and hypocrites; and it delineates some of the tasks that a truly socialist organization should have been shouldering (regardless of whether it's a revolutionary organization or not), in order to break effectively from the chains of the international lenders (and especially to break with the regime of austerity enforced by European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund, otherwise known as the Troika.). The article briefly examines specific tasks and actions in the spheres of the economy; property relations; the military; and regional politics. It takes as a point of departure the position that if those tasks are NOT shouldered, then a break from the regime of lenders will be impossible, regardless of the new Government's intentions.
It's right here:
Thank You Greece! Thank You SYRIZA!
Since that time, developments have been harsh, intense. The people have voted twice against the austerity regime of the international lenders: once to elect Tsipras, and then again in the Referendum in July, voted to reject the proposed "new deal" with the lenders. What was the outcome? The official party leadership of SYRIZA and Tsipras have reversed themselves, proving that "it was all for the show". And the population is now being lined up to receive the blows of an even harsher regime of austerity. The quality of life (and death) in Greece right now is the worst it's been since the end of World War II. Only one step is left before descending down to those wartime "qualities".
Tasks and solutions that might have been appropriate eight months or a year ago might still be appropriate but they are no longer adequate. So.... what is needed today?
The sections of this paper below address some of the issues of what is needed. Items that need to be addressed are:
The Euro, or another currency?
Some Solutions:
a. Before the July Referendum
b. In the Present
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The Euro, or another currency?
Unfortunately, a big chunk of (sterile) debate has been invested in the question of whether to remain within the Eurozone, or whether Greece ought to re-invent its own new currency - for example the Drachma - and forge its own path. Posing such questions has not been fruitful, because it leaves the underlying problems (internal contradictions) of the economy unexamined. Changing the currency will not restructure the forms of production, will not move the economy from a primarily tourism-based dependency on imports of commodities and foreign exchange, and ultra-specialized into providing simple services, to an economy by which food, medicines, clothes, building materials, fuels, simple tools and other necessities can be produced locally within Greece: only THAT kind of change in the economy would make a difference.
Only when the country stops having to import foods and begins to rely again on its own production of essential necessities, will there be a material substratum of self-sufficiency enabling the economic independence of Greece. Until such changes are effected, it matters little whether the exploitative, disastrous and death-oriented economy of the present is mediated by the Euro or by any another currency.
Alongside with changes in the basic orientation of the economy toward local self-sufficiency, some large-scale changes in forms of ownership of the means of production will need to be actualized. Also, changes in the forms of production, and in the direction (raison d'être) of production: shall production be guided by the pursuit of profits, or guided by the directive to fulfil people's needs? Will the economy be generating products and services, or will all of its processes be aimed at commodification?
But if such changes were to be actualized (socialized forms of ownership corresponding to the social character of production; re-orientation of the economy toward local self-sufficiency and fulfillment of people's needs), and IF for some reason after that there is still a need to examine adopting a new currency, by then it would be a lot easier to do that. It would be simple to operate either an economy with a mixed currency (where the Euro can coexist with the Drachma and the Bitcoin), or a more strict economy with its own currency that enforces all internal exchanges to be mediated by the Drachma.
There are some who argue that the Drachma will be needed in order to pursue new economic policies. For example, they say, how will we find funding to invest in worker-owned factories, peasant-owned collective farms, production units re-oriented toward people's needs instead of profits?
There may be some validity to these objections but the truth is we live in a modern world where the role of money as a universal medium of exchange is easily demystified and restored to that original function, as soon as we realize that plastic money (credit and debit cards) and imaginary money (credit extended by the banks) facilitate a great part of the modern economy, and that simply, all that is needed is an efficient and instantaneous system of accounting. Electronic debit-credit cards issued to every working person, or to every citizen, resident and visitor to the country, plus card-reading machines installed everywhere can easily fulfil that role, without need to give a name to the currency being used. Or, a currency can be named (declared) for those electronic exchanges, without necessarily ever printing or minting it in tangible bills and coins. Additionally, direct exchanges of products and services - bartering - that bypass the actual exchange of money, can easily service many of the exchange needs of a large section of modern life. Most businesses are already able to do that (and many have been forced into it whether they wanted it or not!), while life in small communities is already to a great degree dependent on bartering.
Some Solutions:
a. Before the July Referendum
Even in the first few months of the Tsipras-SYRIZA Governmental era, it was possible to bring into life some of the proposals that I had articulated in my article above (titled "Thank You Greece! Thank You SYRIZA!"). There was still time for the Government to launch a State-sponsored popular campaign of massive mobilizations to take on the specific tasks and actions (in the spheres of the economy; property relations; the military; and regional politics) that were needed to save the country.
But they did none of that, and neither did they create a viable "Plan B" in case the country was forced to go without a new injection of loans, or in case it was forced out of the Eurozone.
Even on the eve of the July Referendum, though, there was still time to take some drastic steps in the right (Left!) direction. Especially in demanding that Germany pay the wartime reparations it owes to Greece, which are a sum larger than the entire debt of Greece; or to unilaterally cancel a big part of the debt and declare it odious, illegal and impossible to ever pay back (it's an evaluation that even the IMF agrees with). These proposals were discussed fiercely among some sections of SYRIZA, put forth by members who, acting from within close to the nucleus of the party, attempted - even at the last moment - to help the Government see more clearly, shoulder its responsibilities, do the right thing, fulfil its platform and its promises to the people, and help prevent a larger catastrophe.
One of these gentle and wise radicals is Yiannis Mavros, who all throughout the first few months of the new Government's rule and especially during the last week before the Referendum, circulated many proposals, critiques, analyses, culminating in the following 13 Points that were, published in an article aptly titled "13 points (from the negotiation to the referendum)". This article was banned from all the official organs controlled by the party leadership. I reproduce here the whole thing in its entirety because it shows that even within the party there were, and still are, good people who not only have brains, but who also have a sense of the historical mission that that Government was supposed to fulfil. The author, a founding member of SYRIZA, is one of our colleagues working with resistance-fighter hero and Member of Parliament Manolis Glezos to pressure for Germany's war reparations, and has worked quietly without seeking personal aggrandizement within many progressive and radical formations in the past years.
13 points (from the negotiation to the referendum)
By Yiannis Mavros
1. The call for a referendum constitutes both an acknowledgement of a deadlock and a potential new beginning of negotiations.
2. The recourse to the peoples’ verdict became imperative once the Troika’s ultimatum was delivered, a move which revealed its true intentions and exposed the sham of the negotiations. It is by now clear to everyone that their true aim was not the signing of an agreement but rather the undermining and overthrow of the Greek Government.
3. In principle, it is a positive thing, that the Greek people was asked, for the first time since the plebiscite of 1974 which decided that Greece was to be a Democracy, that it is being called upon to express its opinion on a matter of great national importance.
4. The conditions under which this referendum is taking place, however, are simply inadmissible. We have been called upon to decide, within a week’s time, with banks closed and the privately owned mass media waging a campaign of terror, whether to accept or reject an ultimatum, which has been meanwhile partially retracted by the Troika, which hastened to submit a slightly improved proposal. The question posed is thus, strictly speaking, irrelevant. Making good of this subterfuge and the concerted statements of foreign officials to that effect, the local establishment consolidated a “YES Party” by twisting the question and arguing that a NO vote would inevitably lead to an exit from the Euro.
5. Answering to this rhetoric of fear, which is amplified by the closed banks and the orchestrated spreading of rumors, the Government and the Prime Minister exclude any such eventuality and bolster their arguments in support of the continuation of negotiations for a solution within the Euro with the submission of new proposals which include a two year 29billion Euro loan, debt restructuring, the pullout of the IMF, guarantees that wages and pensions will be protected and a strong investment package.
6. It is indisputable that, contrary to its predecessors, the Tsipras Government drives a hard bargain and has shown to have its own red lines. At the same time, however, it has appeared ready to make serious concessions and to accept austerity measures as long as it gets to decide their precise mix.
7. I have gone on record from the beginning expressing my objections vis a vis the Government’s negotiating tactics, specifically criticizing the absence of a plan B in case we came across, -as indeed we have- a wall of intransigence. I consider it an inexcusable mistake of SYRIZA that this public dialog, which should have begun in 2010, never took place, and thus the Euro remains to this day a taboo subject for most. Besides undermining considerably our negotiating strength, this has disarmed the people ideologically and politically, it has deprived them of the means of imagining an alternative national strategy for the future and has trapped them in the claws of a deceptive “europeanism”, clearly the opponent’s court.
8. The course of the negotiation has proved beyond doubt that the framework of the European Union and the Euro is too narrow for Greece, that it is incompatible with national and popular sovereignty, with democracy and human rights and demands total surrender to neoliberal austerity, whatever its social cost.
9. Thus five precious months were wasted in negotiations while the financial noose was being tightened, investments were frozen and the real economy was slipping again into recession, thus bringing us to the present crisis and the necessary payment default and the calling of the referendum. 
10. The question is to what extent the Government’s handling of matters, besides appealing to our national dignity and pride, can also be effective. It is certain, for one, that if these moves had been made earlier and if more time was provided for a public debate under more favorable conditions compared to today’s, the outcome of the referendum in favor of the Government’ s position would not be in question, as it is now. It is also at least doubtful whether a NO vote would phase the arrogance and intransigence of our lenders and their political representatives and if not we would be back in a deadlock and a worsening of the crisis.
11. Under such conditions the Government has to choose between confrontation and compromise. In the first case it ought to review its entire position vis a vis the European Union and adopt a policy of denouncing the loan agreements, the memoranda and the executive laws which put them into effect and should proceed to unilaterally cancel the odious debt and call for negotiations concerning the servicing of the rest. At the same time, it should deliver a verbal vote to Germany claiming war reparations, indemnities of the civilians massacred during the occupation, the repayment of the forced loan and the return of the stolen cultural treasures.
12. Otherwise, the Government should resign, and SYRIZA and ANEL should call on all parties to support a government with a special mandate to negotiate with the Troika under conditions of national unity and social calm, while reserving the right to lead the country to elections if unable to secure a viable and dignified solution.
13. In both cases the country would have a political leadership capable of facing up to the challenges ahead and we may well then speak of a new era for Greece and a historical turn for Europe and the world.
Yannis Mavros
In other words, Tsipras and the SYRIZA leadership have no excuse. It is not possible for them to hide behind phrases like "we didn't know what to do anymore", "there was no more room to maneuver", or any such other smokescreens thrown up to conceal their treason of the struggle and the people.
Some Solutions:
b. In the Present
It's possible that no one else will take the risk of saying or supporting what I have to say here. If you embrace publicly even a small part of these proposals, be prepared to face the shitstorms or insults that come along with the territory!
The only solutions to the current crisis that will be possible, fair and efficient, and capable of saving the country from a total collapse will be solutions that incorporate and make good use of elements of military communism and war communism within a plan of massive social mobilizations aimed at temporary (or even permanent) deep and radical social re-adjustments. Transition to a "normal" capitalist economy is not possible now, and a "normal" transition to Socialism is not possible either.
Military communism and war communism are terms often misunderstood, and also confused. This is not the place to clarify them, but if a person needs a fresh look at them here are some articles that might help.
Military communism:
Is the US Military a Socialist Institution?
Socialized Police
War communism:
Lenin on War Communism, 1921-2
In other words, in addition to the features discussed in the article titled "Thank You Greece! Thank You SYRIZA!" - that mentions social rescue measures that would be indispensable today - we might have to ensure that a broad social mobilization aimed at social change will also incorporate into its political program things like widespread collective ownership of a large percentage of social and natural assets, or liberation (socialization) of many social services or facilities from their domination by Capital and the authoritarian State (for example many of the large units in tourist resorts that shut down during the Winter can be utilized as rest and relaxation places for the elderly and retired people on a seasonal basis; a number of them can be rendered into free clinics or homes for recovery from illnesses, surgery, etc.)
Some features of this project, or junctures of this political period, might necessitate some of the following:
  • Seizure, occupation and operation by the people of many industries and branches of agriculture, and the introduction of workers' control with direct democracy;
  • The establishment (and empowerment) of people's councils throughout the whole of the country, through which the day-to-day activities will be administered. These can be based in the neighborhoods, the workplaces, the schools, and within the security services (military, police, etc.);
  • Social or State control of foreign trade;
  • Self-organization of labour-brigades along the lines of a modern democratic People's Army, and militarization of labour (more on this below);
  • Seizure or requisition of agricultural, industrial or trade surpluses for decentralized (community determined) distribution among the population;
  • If social assets and production dwindle and the country is forced into a state of emergency, it might become necessary to introduce rationing of food and of most other commodities, with distribution to the people according to need and availability;
  • Encourage and support small private enterprise alongside with enterprises by collectives, communes, bands, worker-owned businesses, which should receive priority;
  • Social control of the railways, highways, airports, telephones, electricity, water and other large scale elements of the social and economic infrastructure, ensuring that these will serve the people's needs.
What would prevent such a scheme from degenerating into red fascism, or stalinism? Some of these policies may prove pregnant with social disasters, especially when we start speaking of "militarization of labour". What would that look like?
It should be possible for popular organizations (hopefully backed by a progressive Government) to catalyze the formation of self-organized labour units along the values of voluntarism, in the same way a People's Army is congealed, and encouraged by material incentives. For example, half of ALL young people in Greece (ages 15-24) are now unemployed. General unemployment is about 25%. If an organization offered food and shelter to people willing to join work brigades for three month, six, or twelve-month periods, and these productive people were set to revitalizing idle agriculture and industry units, this would be a great boon to all! Some of these brigades could be local, within their own communities, and some could be mobile, structured and equipped so as to travel wherever they are needed. The volunteers in these brigades can be taught basic production skills, but more importantly, taught the basics of Direct Democracy applied to production, to collective or communal living in barracks, tent cities, occupied apartment or office complexes... and through these experiences become the new social vehicle for rescuing the country AND for pursuing further social struggles in the near future.
Local and regional community organizers and social activists will know best what each community needs. When a youth labour brigade moves into an area, they would be the ones to say "we need five people at the regional hospital to be nurses' aides, ten people to teach at the public schools, thirty for harvest at this orchard for a week, and fifty to rejuvenate this furniture factory".
The work of the brigades will eventually accumulate enough surplus that some production units will start to be efficient, even able to produce returns (income for the business). At that point, some of the volunteer members of the work brigades might stay on and become wage workers at these newly rescued businesses.
If such brigades are shaped and guided by the anti-authoritarian values and principles of feminism;
ecology; direct democracy; socialism and anarcho-communism; internationalism; and by the perennial Hellenic cultural and spiritual values that have always been part of our civilization, there can be a whole world to gain with such youth in the lead of our future struggles! Neither red nor black fascism will able to pervert such formations.
We've come a long way as a global Movement since the stalinist era, and we've learned many things about how to prevent it from poisoning and seizing hold of our processes and organizations. In addition to those listed above, some elements that will be of paramount importance are to maintain a spirit positive toward Eros and the erotic - viewed from the marxian Orgonomic (Reichian) point of view, this would ensure that the persons participating in the Movement would not be subjected to authoritarian suppression of any form of sexuality, thus pre-empting the possibility that fascist leanings will be fueled by the psychosomatic anomalies (sadistic, dominating, and other authoritarian pathologies), nor the mystification and dogmatism that sex-negating policies generate.
Another element that is often left behind when Scientific Socialism is employed in solving social problems, is the people's spiritual life. There will need to be a careful balance between a respect for ALL forms of spiritual and religious life within the structures and organizations of the Movement, and at the same time a restriction of any religious activity that impinges on the rights of other people, including those of children and adolescent people who many not be given a free choice; or people of other faiths; or atheists and agnostics. We should be guided by the understanding that the spiritual and religious life of the people is precious and must be protected, and the same time be guided by the understanding that Freedom of Religion can only be experienced when there's Freedom FROM Religion.
One might say that to put together all this and invest it in the formations and structures of the Movement is a formidable task, perhaps even impossible. I would say that there's no other choice. It's either do or die.
Petros Evdokas,

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