(Excerpts from) P. Roupa, For a Timely Analysis of the Present Situation
Excerpts from P. Roupa, For a timely analysis of the present situation
[Note: for understanding the crisis in the Greek movement of the past year, this is an extremely important text. For the present, these excerpts only cover some portions of the longer Greek text.]
Systemic crises are periods when major economic, social, and political changes appear, where unique opportunities for action and struggle for subversive movements are created. These are opportunities to the extent that can be exploited properly to irreparably undermine a shaky and unstable power system, but to the extent they are not used, from opportunities for subversion and revolution they can be converted into catalysts of internal divisions and conflict. The forms of action and struggle are called forth into de facto development to meet the new historical situation, and old forms of struggle that show themselves insufficient in front of present challenges obviously collapse. History itself is a challenge for those who struggle, especially for revolutionaries.
Against the current historical challenge we are all called to advance forward. And this not only because we as revolutionaries owe it to ourselves to grab unique historical opportunities and put into practice a revolutionary design, but because if we do not stand we equal to the task, if we can not fulfill our own historic mission, History itself will trample over us, perhaps destroy us. However, as the crisis deepens, nothing will remain the same. Large sectors of the political regime’s bloc deteriorate, weaken, dissolve and some are threatened with extinction, while the attempt of Left intervention in the system collapsed with the Syriza government; new political dynamics will spring up as political extremes are reinforced, and what is at stake is who will occupy the political vacuum left behind by systemic crisis. It is known to everyone that nature abhors a vacuum, and this also applies for politics.
Although it is not at all pleasant to deal with specific political pathologies of the radical movement, I think I have at the moment no choice, since apart from presenting one’s positions, some borderline situations like the present require grappling with issues operating counterproductively in terms of creating a revolutionary movement, issues which intensify and consolidate divisions among revolutionaries- and if you do not get past this political crisis it can reach conditions of generalized political cannibalism, although in some cases such cannibalism is already manifest. An important issue for me is to see in this context the issue of alignment for some or tolerance for others of leftist attempts to transform the system. These attempts clearly represent projects that not only do not promote revolution, but very effectively work to undermine it.
Since 2010 when Greece came under controlled bankruptcy with memorandums, we failed to capitalize on the opportunities presented to us in order to create a revolutionary movement of the quality, consistency, and dynamic range required in order to be a political catalyst to promote revolution in broader sections of the population affected by the brutal crisis. Instead, some invested in political forces foreign to revolution, such as Syriza, hoping that a leftist government would relax the pressure exerted previously by the neoliberal forces of the regime, both to the social base and to those who resist, and thought this would help to improve the conditions for the development of the movement.
In fact this trend- which some cultivated long before Syriza took power and many have always believed- was expressed in different theoretical and practical forms, and was a result of our individual and collective inability to build a revolutionary movement and to shape the terms of a genuine subversive struggle. As the rise of Syriza to power was the result of the defeat of social resistance in the early years of the crisis, in an analogous way the aforementioned political tendency was and is a result of a political failure of the anarchist space in the same period. And because seeing deadlocks is contrary to my nature and political stance, I think the complete turnaround of Syriza into a neoliberal party totally identified with the lenders and a political bankruptcy which came in record time, can help to finish once and for all with any illusions concerning leftist political formations. This can help us clearly define matters, both as to the creation of a revolutionary movement and for the building of healthy revolutionary relations amongst ourselves.
A review of the last months is necessary to the extent that from previous elections and throughout the period following the coming to power of Syriza, the different perspectives and positions on the left government have served as the main background for a series of confrontations and warlike collisions within the movement. Another factor that makes this review even more necessary are the forthcoming elections [note: those of September 20], where it is certain for some and likely for others that in searching for the “new” political base and project for the movement they will find it in the new political group that emerged against the excess of Syriza’s austerity, pitting themselves as the “genuine Syriza” and using – once again- various crowns like resistance to lenders, in order to demand power.
If we want to see in real terms the creation of a revolutionary movement, we must free ourselves once and for all from any left political arrangement that flirts with power just as the dominant political forces are collapsing; we have to create our own design and help this project find the necessary social support in order to give impetus to the revolutionary perspective.
Syriza coming to power played a catalytic role in highlighting divisions and contradictions, which were mainly expressed through specific events and, as such, were lacking the basis of substantive discussion. And while Syriza went bankrupt politically bringing the third memorandum- which brought to light also the bankruptcy of any arguments from a portion of the movement concerning an attitude of tolerance towards them, by trying to make them seem different from the rest of the political elite, as well as having shared premises with them in certain events and policies- no account of the period that passed has happened, but this is necessary to enter the new period characterized by the bankruptcy of reformism in all its manifestations.
As a part of the anarchist/anti-authoritarian space consistently voted for Syriza in recent years without any political hesitation, it is the logical consequence that once Syriza came to power, divisions and conflicts would accompany many actions and would undermine any attempt at joint activity. A small peak of this division came on the occasion of the referendum. The final culmination of an internal conflict in the movement would have come if there had been a Grexit, which was avoided for the moment at least. And it is important to have some clear positions on what everyone professes, in particular clear political stances, because an explosive moment that might blow up, first of all, the actual subversive struggle has not disappeared from the horizon. And such a potential development in my view, can not be blamed either on power or the “pacified” society. The only responsibility will fall on us, especially on those who whatever their politics, base themselves on estranged authoritarian plans and targets.
But as for Grexit and what it would mean socially, politically, economically and within the country, I refer first to the period before the referendum and the period that followed. If some are pondering why I give such weight to the possibility of a Grexit and its effects, they probably do not realize the historical significance that it will have both for society and for radical forces. And above all, they do not see the assimilative potential latent in such a development. This is a dynamic that can convert a large portion of the movement, in the absence of a revolutionary plan, into reactionary defenders of counterrevolutionary policies aimed at remedying the system on new bases.
Well before Syriza was in power, a part of the space viewed the prospect of a government of the left as an opportunity for favorable treatment on a number of issues concerning the immediate interests of the movement, especially those concerning enforcement issues: the less harsh treatment by security forces in the streets, the better treatment of political prisoners, the softer treatment of comrades in courts were some of the “expectations” that a portion of the movement had for the government of Syriza. Based on the above, it was a consistent political choice of some to avoid frontal political confrontation with the government. And the protests and complaints recorded in public discourses or actions were mild pressure for the government to make a more…left turn- it being not at all obvious that these phrases contain subversive meaning and direction, even if their propagators like to believe that. Even after the agreement with lenders, while the government eliminated every excuse of anti-memorandum politics and acquired a completely neoliberal view, Syriza still enjoyed a peculiar political immunity. Perhaps because, under whatever circumstances and whatever this government does, some still insist that “it is in our interest for it not to fall.”
These “expectations” arrived, onto which were grafted in the previous months several theories about “sharpening antagonisms within the ruling class”: that if Syriza formed a government, it will automatically “favor the development of the movement.” In these cases, the expectation of a possible rupture with the lenders in recent summits amid the referendum and the prospect of exit from the eurozone had so far replaced the complete lack of revolutionary project that it made some who had invested in the probability of a rupture rave about the government’s decision to hold the referendum- until the harsh reality brought them back to earth.
The full integration of Syriza in the neoliberal framework and the void left behind as an anti-memorandum party will be attempted to be met with the new arrangement of LAE (Popular Unity), trying to bring back the illusions about the “abolition of memoranda”, for “tough negotiations” and “conflicts with lenders” and as a “banner” exiting the euro. Behind this new arrangement -with the inappropriate and unworkable policy which I will deal with later- is absolutely certain to crawl a portion of the radical space, reproducing a new base for the position of “strengthening ruling class rivalries for the benefit of the movement”, this view which has been orphaned following the identification of Syriza with the creditors.
What some should reconsider, beyond the futility of investing so much for small political interests (such as managing repression) in one tendency of a political regime that comes to power, is that it also is futile to expect that any difference within ruling sovereignty operate de facto in favor of subversive struggle by covering for the absence of a revolutionary movement. With that in mind, for some, the exit from the eurozone and the EU itself constitute a development that brings us closer to revolution (!). Without any approach to what kind of rupture, who causes it and why, without thinking of its effect on society, without analysis or only deferred analysis of the new situation and conditions that will arise, especially without an elementary revolutionary project for the exploitation of any new developments, any major rupture within the ruling order- rather than making a trench that will bury the system- may well be one that will swallow the revolutionary project. And this might happen because such a development will serve as the ultimate field of assimilation for a portion of the movement, where from anti-authoritarians they will turn into loyalist followers due to a vague political outlook of “exploiting inter-bourgeois rupture and conflict.”
It is always our job as rebels to operate in acts and therefore undermine systemic stability by any means. But when this effort is not accompanied by a revolutionary reason for our focus and prospects, only confusion can be caused both within the movement and in society more widely. And ensuring that the benefits of a systemic destabilization can be exploited in a revolutionary direction, matches the continuous effort to develop a revolutionary movement with a clear design, with sincere positions and proposals to the base of society.
With their “good morning” to the coalition Syriza-ANEL, some people took care to make their position clear to the “new era”, making public their willingness to exit the frame of political conflict with authority. We read about the “deep state” that would exploit the situation (whether for agreement or a break with the lenders) to make “provocations”, thus not only heightening the price for any selection of political conflict against the government, but also to accuse that struggle as a provocation, especially if it acquired violent characteristics. The political scaremongering about “strengthening paramilitary circles”, for the “strengthening of the fascists”, for the action of the “deep state”, was beyond superficial, it was actually hostile to many comrades- especially those who chose not to make any truce in conflict with the central political power due to Syriza. But the most serious issue arising from this perspective is how it is constant and fixed for every possible political development and position-whether this development is a compromise with creditors or a break with them, every choice of violent social reaction to government will serve the”deep state”, the repressive mechanisms, and the fascists. Thus both anarchists and society, if they revolt against the government, will only play the game of “the deep state”, which will be benefitted in every scenario. And so as to “avoid the worst” (e.g. the return of New Democracy to power), it is necessary for the movement to give stable political immunity to Syriza at all times. And if part of society rose in revolt against the government, what would these people do? Would they stand against them?
Regarding the “change” in economic policy from Syriza, for some this would be in the “field of substantive rather than symbolic,” expected to “hit European fascism” and finally, “to tame European capital.” Obviously, this approach does not take account- or does not know- of the initial and current position of Syriza in favor of capital (and European capital) and the system in general, positions which are recorded in the analysis of governmental officials long before Syriza climbed to power (and which were incorporated into the strategy of the government in the days of Varoufakis); and at the level of the necessary systemic reforms needed to exit from the euro crisis, there is a great unanimity of their views with a portion of the international economic elite. And as far as electoral promises go, yes, these were clearly at the level of the symbolic. I refer to these in the text below in more detail.
Regarding the attitude of cops against actions of the radical space, I for one, like many other comrades, can list several cases under previous governments where heads of riot police squads either desperately sought confirmation from headquarters to allow them to “liquidate” us and this without there having flown a single stone, or they have tried to do so without orders. This happened in serious social protests and conflicts-either a single cop found the opportunity e.g. with the chanting of only one slogan, to attack causing a general police attack without any prior command. And never was there any position in the movement where we avoid actions that cause repression. This view just causes laughs because until recently it was ascribed as the official line only of the institutional left. Finally, for some it became a political “line” in the radical space. To protect who? Us?- but we have always had such phenomena from the cops, as I have said- or Syriza? But we never bothered to distinguish under any other government the regular repressive moves by the police, nor did we feel that any repressive policy was based on either the institutional right or extreme right vote of cops. Why do so over Syriza? And how is it possible to judge so accusingly the decision of some people, by demanding that they not march against this government under any circumstances?
To come back to “the deep state” in the case of rupture with lenders -a rupture that could only result from deadlock in the negotiations and would come from the lenders themselves- in such a case the only “deep state” would be Syriza and the far-right ANEL who would impose the most brutal repression to maintain social peace in the case of a major crisis of relations between the Greek state and “the institutions” which could lead to Grexit. And somewhere here we should look for the importance of placing Kammenos in the leadership of the armed forces and the assurance that “the armed forces will preserve order in the country.” From such a position, and some variations thereof, another impetus was given to the conflict in the movement, as shown in smaller and larger examples. And based on the perspective of the “deep state” the Syriza coalition government was given carte blanche for every repressive offensive against militants, as some had the care from the outset to relieve the government of its responsibilities, this government which had “brought under control the autonomised segments of Greek police.” This would continue until the hunger strike of political prisoners dispelled this claim, and then there was unveiled the repressive policy of the government and its political opportunism in its attitude towards the demands of the hunger strikers.
The hunger strike of the political prisoners [~March 2015]
Before turning to the hunger strike of the political prisoners, which I believe was an important political episode with rich lessons and conclusions for the struggle, I say that what I write both in this section and throughout the text, is based exclusively on texts and facts that have been published. It is an historic fact that this strike ended with serious conflicts and confrontations within the movement. But in so much as there were expressed individual issues, attitudes and options, the basic causes of the problems were two: the different political stance towards Syriza, and negative attitudes and positions of some people against armed action. Regarding the latter, some publicly recorded in a text that the fact this particular strike concerned “people prosecuted for armed struggle constitutes a difficulty for many parts of the radical space to get involved”. And that “it was understood” and accepted by a large portion of space how some have given armed struggle “central political significance”. Now who or what organization puts at the center of struggle or has a hierarchy with armed struggle placed as all-important, this is the question to answer. At least with regard to Revolutionary Struggle both myself and my partner Maziotis, in writing and orally in central events and assemblies for what we do and do not consider key matters in the fight for social revolution, we do not consider any specific form of struggle as the most important and we are not recommending to form the “vanguard” of any kind. And because often repeated -until now practically constantly- this filological obsession by some to point out with anxiety the hierarchical practices and methods in the fight by Revolutionary Struggle, is probably stimulated by some kind of political complex of their own, because Revolutionary Struggle could not have given rise to such anxieties. As well, we have repeatedly said that an armed revolutionary struggle is not about weapons or tools like dynamite etc. but the political aims and strategy it has. And the same applies to any form of struggle.
From these two causes came all the other controversies, in whatever way or form they were expressed. The only exception were the anonymous attacks on the differences and confrontations during the strike which were the reason, or rather the pretext, for a coordinated attempt at the political isolation of comrade Nikos Maziotis. And some people thought that the opportunity was given for them to attempt the unthinkable: to isolate him from the organization, separating the comrade from Revolutionary Struggle. From this attempt there may be absent a political starting point, or at least not one included; but to target a representative in this way retains a political character. The attempts to isolate the comrade through mud and filth is finally an attempt to isolate Revolutionary Struggle itself. And such attempts at isolation, at political devaluation of Revolutionary Struggle were never attempted even by the state, save for the first days of arrests in 2010 and the failed attempt of ministerial and repressive mechanisms -an attempt eventually canceled by them- to tarnish the organization and us as fighters, as is recognized even by their own state institutions after years of militant presence and serious tests of repression, how Revolutionary Struggle was too hard for “their teeth.” But some of “ours” had the audacity to try “from within.” And the worst of them did it anonymously, as befits vulgar mudslinging. A futile attempt for those who think to damage Revolutionary Struggle, above all because this is a task too difficult for their own non-existent “teeth.” I know that during the hunger strike some computer keyboards were “lighting up” for their premier chance to “hit” Maziotis. But really I give too little credit to myself and to him in referring at all to this laughable delirium, which only acted to the discredit of its exponents. Apart from some events that are worth mentioning, for the rest of what I have to say (for those who follow this narration), it is advisable to focus on political positions and the substance of events, to look at each political course, and avoid entering the trap of criticism based on style or good manners. And if one sees coordinated attacks against a comrade, one is a little bit suspicious. Because if anything was more surprising than the deficit in unity during the strike, it was how far this was outstripped by some in their rush to attack Maziotis.
At any rate, the hunger strike’s different political positions were two. One political position was the frontal political conflict with Syriza as expressed, at least, by comrade and member of Revolutionary Struggle, Nikos Maziotis. This willingness to make a common struggle against the government spearheaded the hunger strike, had been recorded in the first text of its start, and had long ago declared readiness to collide with any trend considering armistice in war with political power due to Syriza. Obviously there was the hope through this hunger strike to conduct a joint anti-government struggle of all political prisoners, creating the ground for a broader rallying of the movement and joint action against the coalition government that would contradict any tolerant positions for the government emanating from a portion of the radical space- further hoping that the success of such a broad rallying would contribute to the growth potential of a revolutionary movement. As to the texts of the other strikers at the start of the strike, in which they gave the political tone and when solidarity actions began, they did not involve the issue of conflict with the government. Later this issue came from the overwhelming majority of the strikers, like the issue of creating a radical movement. Finally, both on the ground and in the attitude of the strikers, was seen the necessity of a movement of solidarity with all political prisoners and the mistake of abandoning anyone for any reason in the hands of the state. In short, the logic of this strike- which was to attempt a concerted political conflict with the government of Syriza, to attack the repressive arsenal of the State, and to contribute to the development of a solidarity movement for political prisoners which raises the issue of creating a revolutionary movement- was correct. But with this perspective not everyone agreed.
Against the above issues raised mostly one way or another by most of the strikers, some outside the walls disagreed and undermined this strike by their own attitude. The solidarity movement undermined itself by playing up divisions, tending to cause a mood of distancing from “individuals” who made the strike and who were in prison for armed action. I believe, and since it has been some time from that strike so we can crystallize the main problems, that the base problem was the inability to create an expanded solidarity movement with increasing momentum which would support the strikers and would strengthen solidarity for each other and (at least to a large extent) prevent any conflict from ensuing. But as the strike progressed, the solidarity movement took on a descending note rather than strengthened and increased participation, an occurrence which so far is without any precedent.
Solely from negativity and their covert polemic with armed action some have made it a given for distancing or selective “solidarity” for some, which determines their stance in solidarity issues concerning why someone is imprisoned, driven by some kind of political insecurity lest their sympathy be attributed to the choice of armed action or lest they suffer some kind of political marginalization. Or lest there be imputed to them aiding the policy of armed organizations by giving the floor for prisoners to speak in solidarity events. That is, what they consider as solidarity is only their own view offered in their own speeches and the silence of those who put their crosshairs against the state and repression- in this case the hunger strikers. And this, in the name of “maintaining political differences”, apparently makes it “reasonable” to jump to equating solidarity movements with political prisoners and organizations to whom some of them belong, all while underestimating -and I would say faithlessly- the comrades who sided with the struggle. Does this not mean downgrading solidarity to an issue of petty maneuvering politics? Is this not turning the strikers or imprisoned fighters into use-values to promote the speech of “our group”? And what is this “two-way relationship”, since in advance is excluded some consideration for the different reasons for the present partnership? And what is this kind of “solidarity”?. . .
[NOTE: (and an added note) We tried to paraphrase and summarize a few pages here, but the effort was too much for our limited Greek and knowledge of the hunger strike, as was helpfully pointed out by some Greek comrades.]
. . .If someone thinks that a revolutionary movement can be built on the basis of exceptions and divisions in solidarity, they make a huge mistake. And as this text is coming out, E. Statiri is on hunger strike demanding her release from pre-trial detention, and I express my support for her and wish her strength and liberty, hoping that her demand and struggle will find a wide response. To close, this hunger strike was neither the first nor the last event to help define and clear up the attitude of the radical space towards Syriza. . .
The illusions of the “left confrontation with the imperialist center”
The referendum deserves a special mention, as it entailed a concentration of political positions concerning the government and a number of issues, but mainly because it brought to the fore the confusion caused by the absence of revolutionary design and perspective. Confusion is a non-negligible factor in political analysis, one which often manifests itself in various “erudite” approaches to the “inevitable” clash inside organized power and how this will deterministically benefit the struggle and the intensification of conflict.
The referendum and the voting I analyse based on two parameters. First, on the level of society. Regarding the ‘yes’ vote, I think things are quite clear. Where there is confusion is about the ‘no’ and abstention, and whether one or the other option serves the intensification of the struggle or not. To reiterate some of my positions on the referendum-or to clarify for whoever did not understand or did not want to understand- in the text I published before the summit in July, I spoke of many things, but not a single ‘no’. The social base for much of the ‘no’ that fell for voting, had a social and economic background and was a direct result of the pressure that austerity has brought on a large section of society. For some of those who voted ‘no’, it was the simple “I can’t take any more austerity measures” without political aims or strategies. And some of this ‘no’ had illusions that perhaps the referendum could be used by the government to prevent further harsh measures.
But towards the societal ‘no’ without a plan and strategy, we can not stand in the same direction as we do towards the ‘no’ of the radical space and various leftist parties and factions, which are supported by analysis and fit into some “strategy” for struggle. The approach can not be the same. For the sake of economy, let us remove from the discussion the ‘no’ of the Golden Dawn neo-nazis, since it is openly hostile to the revolutionary ‘no’. The important is to stick to at least some of the ‘militant, political no’ of the movement. What are the strategies and policies guiding this ‘no’? And most importantly, in default of any strategy at hand in the case of Grexit -conditions that would trigger the explosion of new political antagonisms- what would be their attitude, not only within the radical space, but also to society?
Here I make a brief parenthesis to note that what I say in this document does not relate to people, but to political positions and trends like the ones that I see expressed through public discourse and debate. Because of my status in clandestinity I neither know nor want to know (and am completely uninterested in) who are the personal exponents of these views.
A general idea for many on the scene was that the referendum was an opportunity for the “sharpening of class contradictions.” Was this view was based on the belief that the government would be forced come into conflict with the lenders if there was a majority ‘no’? Why should one blind oneself, consciously or unconsciously, in front of the given decision of the government to come to an agreement, not rupture, and to keep the country in the euro, a decision that was continuously expressed at every opportunity by Tsipras? For while it is wrong, in my view, for the society to vote “no” over the false dilemma that the government put in the referendum, on the other hand, it is truly tragic to invest politically in the government thinking it will move towards the sharpening of class contradictions, coming into conflict with creditors of its own will and supporting the interests of the poor. It is tragic to expect the government to go forward in conflict with the EU and lenders by serving the interests of the lower class and socially weak. It is also an illusion that can have tragic results, believing that any contradiction within the ruling powers can automatically boost a subversive movement.
And let’s suppose that they did not understand this and believed Syriza would not sign any agreement. That is, from a mistaken appraisal, politically investing in Tsipras who will “serve the people’s verdict”. But what did they do when Syriza signed the agreement? Where are the “unyielding” who preach “no means no”? And if they really believed in the revolutionary importance of this referendum, then they would have to raise the question of the defense of the ‘no’ with armed proletarian violence against, first of all, this government. And finally, how would they defend this? This new rhetoric of “no until the end” promotes and recommends the continuation of being trapped in reformist directions and new deadlocks. The same rhetoric is employed by the left tendency of Syriza that gave birth to LAE (Popular Unity) which claims the majority of the ‘no’ for the coming elections; various parties and factions of the left and a portion of the anarchist space show the new “alliance” that might be formed, with some of the space to follow this time the “drachma-ists” as the promising trend of the left that will “guarantee” to promote conflict with the EU.
The numbness that followed the Syriza-creditors deal in that part of the movement which promoted the ‘no’ was the result of understanding neither the government’s objectives nor the goals of the European economic and political elite, as well as the absence of any revolutionary design to exploit cyclical crises. This numbness was aptly recorded by the absence of any reaction to the agreement. In this, the conflict in front of the Parliament was a serious political barometer. Not for society, since its absence indicates that the referendum on its own was unable to reverse the social moods about a political confrontation with the government, but for the movement. And if anything should be admitted by all, it is that the few comrades who organized the clash in front of the Parliament saved appearances for everyone. And that goes as well for the political, militant ‘no’ parts of the movement.
At any rate, as I said above, the case of a Grexit (which the lenders would cause, not the government) could have been one that triggered the culmination of conflicts within the radical space. This is because that while it is a development that does not at all promise to promote the revolutionary project, nor even a frank confrontation with the elite, many in the space see the exit from the euro deterministically as “a step that brings us closer to the revolutionary goal” since it “will relieve us from the yoke of the big imperialist powers” such as Germany. The tragedy of this view, and the heavy cost it would bear not only for the space, but also for society itself, we can approach in all its heavy weight if we try to see in practical terms what it means to implement a Grexit. This development was avoided at the last minute but did not disappear as a prospect and possible realization in the near or later future, and requires clarification here and now for all the political objectives and goals of the anarchist space, especially now that the trend of “drachma” has developed into coherent political entity, threatening first of all to digest -if it can swallow- the portion of the space that, until the agreement and the “betrayal” of the ‘no’, was favorably inclined towards Syriza. And this is not only because the situation itself requires a revolutionary perspective, but because first and foremost we need to avoid the height of an internal political drama and second, and most importantly, to avoid the peak of a drama for all of society.
The only rupture that could come and was averted at the last minute, as I wrote previously, was not that “from the government resisting the creditors”, as some in the movement wanted to believe. It would be one with the “partners” throwing Greece out of the euro. And this Grexit, do we realize what it would mean politically, economically, socially? Those who have reduced the exit from the EU to a guiding political direction, how do they perceive the sequel to such a possibility, since the crisis itself brings the country close to exit without much special effort on the part of the left government? And when it became clear that exit from the euro was promoted vigorously and systematically by a large part of the European economic and political elite, that elite of course having its continuity plan for Greece, in what terms and with what targets can we see this development as a positive for “the intensification of class conflicts”, as beneficial for struggle? Or is it that the de facto acceptance as a positive development a Grexit -in whatever fashion and however it arrives- and the belief that by itself it would “liberate revolutionary dynamics”, is this gradually leading to a total societal integration and a resignation estranged from revolutionary projects?
To make clear what I mean, I need to make a return to recent political developments. In short, the government decided to proceed to the referendum when it was at an impasse both on the part of the lenders, and on the side of internal party conflicts. I believe that everyone now realizes the original plan of the government was to exert a pressure on the lenders to sign an agreement in a slightly modified shape from the existing one, believing that they would not reach the edge of the cliff due to the “inability of Europe to risk a Grexit”. With this plan months passed, all the time increasing the financing needs of the Greek state and making it increasingly difficult for the government’s position to hold. As the stalemate deepened, monetary reserves had dried up and the government realized that the “honorable compromise” would become dishonest compromise and that lenders do not bluff, and the government was coming closer and closer to the possibility of leaving the euro, reasoning that it could come as a result of a deadlock on the side of the “partners”, and for which the responsibility would be European, and not their own. This solution, as demonstrated by the events, was promoted by part of the European economic and political elite, with leaders of the governments of the North, but was processed and concretized by all the EU leaders, including the European Commission, which prepared the most complete report dealing with it.
The government wanted an agreement at any price, and only the different policies and the threat of conflict inside the ruling party created obstacles to achieving it. And the referendum’s guiding strategy was for the ‘no’ vote to lose, and not the opposite, since this would legitimize the government to overcome the contradictions inside Syriza and would legitimize the agreement based on the “people’s verdict”. And that explains all the phrases of Tsipras both during and upon completion of the referendum: “From this referendum there will be no winners and losers”, “we do not want a break”, “we do not want division”, “Come Monday and we’re all together “, and much more. But much of the organized movement and political militants, with the ‘no’ of the government, celebrated at Syntagma or perhaps were ravished while Tsipras explained as clearly as he could that the ‘no’ for the government was irrelevant. To tell the truth he did his best to defeat it. And the result was that it brought a very difficult position for the government to manage, which now had to convince lenders that the ‘no’ was, after all, “yes to the euro” as propagandized by the entire European political elites and political parties of the local constitutional establishment, that it was “no to no agreement”, “no to rupture.” . . .
The rupture with lenders, still defended by some former officials of Syriza in current conditions, opens serious questions that must be answered. What does it mean, practically, the Grexit offered by lenders? Generally it constitutes a kind of economic, political and social quarantine for Greece, where things will look more like a failed state with refugees that survives on the medicines and canned foods of Europeans in exchange for a “partial remission of debt”. It is the bankruptcy of a state. This is currently proposed by Schauble and by the European Commission.
A number of useful lessons can be learned through the facts and it should not be skipped, concerning the positions adopted by some anarchists against “German imperialism”, which they set as the peak of their activity. These reflections come to respond, with seriousness and composure, to some questions raised through recent events. Ultimately what does ‘German imperialism’ want for Greece? Within or without the euro and the EU? What does ‘German capital’ want to do in Greece? And where is the conflict of interest with ‘Greek capital’ when the latter wants desperately to keep the country in the euro? Why was Grexit a common target for a portion of the German government and a portion of the leftist government? And not for some Grexit different from that promoted by Schauble, since neither side anywhere saw subversive action as a plan amidst such a development nor was there a different proposal to exit the euro. This is quite simply because it didn’t exist. It is obvious -and this is proved not by a long ideological confrontation, but by particularly stubborn historical events- that some people’s method of analysis leads to problems, since in this way they cannot even deal with reality, let alone try to make predictions. And because each climax of subversive action involves broader proclamation of the struggle to which we invite ever-larger sections of society to participate, each time we aim at something as the main enemy, this is the target that most involves our aims of wider subversive crisis and has little potential to resist that.
Therefore, if one sees as the principal enemy another European state, and specifically its policy in a given period (in this case Germany) where precisely is the revolutionary perspective of a wider subversive social struggle? Is Germany, or German imperialism as is claimed, the main enemy of Greek proletarians? And if German policy did not apply a strict monetarist view and impose on the weaker eurozone economies austerity policies and fiscal discipline, if it followed the suggested direction encouraged by many of the transnational (like Soros) economic elite and many of the political elite (including Keynesians, including Varoufakis), exerting a hegemonic imperialism through policies of redistribution of the surpluses of the North, would it still be the same enemy of the Greeks? Will you find any real basis to it, or it is mainly rhetoric, this German imperialism? And why does the whole mob of rulers worldwide exert fierce criticism of German policy, by charging it with the very fact that it refuses to fully assume the role of a hegemonic imperialist power in Europe, and that this refusal is a major reason for the fact that European crisis deepens more and more? And after all, who places the social and class revolution in a project that can include all the domestic elite, as they apparently also “suffer from German imperialism”?
I am deeply convinced that the comrades who adopted and promoted these positions would do well to review them in light of new developments of class rule in our time and the new features of the crisis, for which methods of analysis imported from prior historical periods are not sufficient. . .
[NOTE: the text continues further in this vein, but as we’ve covered the major events of the past year, this is the end for this selection of excerpts. . .]