Greek Forum Update by Aaron Amaral
February 24, 2015
In the aftermath of the “agreement” of February 20 - doubtless a capitulation to the blackmail of European capital and its “institutions” -- it is worth re-emphasizing a couple points I made during the panel discussion two weeks earlier.
i. The warning that there is a strategic impulse driving the Tsipras government, even if we chose to label it a manner less grand, as a “political line.” And thus, the deal with ANEL, the choice of the New Democracy state President, are of a piece with the approach to the negotiations, the hoped for concessions to a Keynesian logic based on a split within Euro-American capital, and the Troika, that was never ultimately manifest. The defeat of this political line, in the February 20, 2015 agreement, should be clear regardless of any attempt to spin the outcome otherwise. The celebratory taunts of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and the insidious banality of bureaucratic assurances given to “European creditors” by Dutch Social Democrat Dijsselbloem, speaks to the reality of this defeat.
ii. That the government’s political line is distinct from the strategy which Syriza, per se, had embodied and promised over its existence as a coalition of the radical left and most recently in its party platform; and is even more distinct from the strategy of the Left within Syriza. That the struggle within Syriza and by the Syriza Left to assert some semblance of democratic control over the processes and direction of governance now become paramount.
For its part, DEA (the group in Greece whose politics I share) has refused any role in government, refuses to take any of ten thousand government jobs now on offer. But it will fight to defend Syriza, take positions within Syriza, to carry out the struggle to maintain a commitment to the essential idea of the United Front and the Workers’ Government, which both characterized and facilitated the initial breakthrough of Syriza in the spring of 2012. Leading DEA member Antonis Davanellos characterized these ideas as having “provided a pattern of transitional politics that started from the need to organize united defensive struggles, mapped out the fastest possible transition to a counter-offensive, and kept alive the prospect of socialist emancipation.”
iii. Thus, I noted, we should assess the compromises that may be made on two fundamental bases: the extent to which the compromises can successfully meet the challenges of the very real humanitarian crisis; and the extent to which the actions on the part of the government succeed ultimately in strengthening the movements, strengthening the ability of the working class and the Left to continue the struggle. This, in some ways, is the essence of the transitional method. And its necessity has not changed.
Notably this is neither the method nor perspective of the ultra-left organizations (be they KKE or ANTARSYA) who have separated themselves from the hopes and aspirations of the vast majority of the Greek working class for both this government and for Syriza. They have always ever (or at least since June 2012) awaited what they see as the inevitable defeat of this historic opportunity….And then, their turn! This involves the inevitable affirmation of sterile truisms (a shared affinity for deploying the epithet of “reformism,” despite their respective distinctive political heritages) passed down through, and conditioned by, decades of retreat and the distance of the Left from the contradictions and challenges of actual power.
iv. So we are less than a month into a government, whose coming into being was determined by years of political and social struggle. A lineage of the Left and the movements that can be traced through a succession of battles, including the general strike wave leading to the general elections of 2012 (the global economic crisis (2007), or the founding of Syriza out of the anti-globalization fights (2004), the experience of the popular front governments (mid-1980s), the military junta (1967-1974), the civil war (1946-49), the Nazi occupation (1941-45), etc.) The left within Syriza is heterogeneous and strong, and represents this legacy by uniting in its determination to stand against the memorandum (or subsequent “agreements”) and the unremitting and undemocratic control of the financial institutions over the lives of the Greek people. And it is unity on this issue which can continue to make it the voice for the Greek majority.
And so in mere weeks this government has already made many promises. And the expectations of it are real, and have been forged like a diamond from the lived pressure of austerity, and like a diamond can also cut and shape events, perhaps as much or more than agreements reached in Brussels. The history of the breakthrough represented by the January 25, 2015 elections thus has not yet been written.
Aaron Amaral, a member of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) and a founding member of AKNY. The ISO sister organization in Greece, Internationalist Workers Left (DEA) participated in the formation of the SYRIZA coalition and is part of the Left Platform within SYRIZA.