Syriza – the Struggle Goes On

The attempt of the EU ‘institutions’, the hated Troika, to strangle the radical left Syriza government at birth is continuing.

Socialist Worker 378

Syriza – the Struggle Goes On

The attempt of the EU ‘institutions’, the hated Troika, to strangle the radical left Syriza government at birth is continuing.

The European Central Bank has written to Greek banks instructing them not to buy any more government debt. That cuts off a potential source of emergency funding for Athens.
Without access to capital markets, or the ECB’s normal financing operations, Greek banks rely on almost €70 billion Emergency Liquidity Assistance to cover a financing shortfall exacerbated by steep deposit withdrawals.

This sounds technical but really it is economic terrorism. This Emergency Liquidity Assistance is used as another means to threaten to destroy the Greek economy and intimidate the Greek government.

As political analyst and member of the Central Committee of Syriza , Yanis Albanis, says “ their behaviour is not dictated by any sort of economic thinking. The money Greece needs (a few billions) is a drop in the ocean of European economy… The issue is deeply political. The forces of conservatism that dominate Europe, want to politically crush Tsipras and SYRIZA so that they can nip an alternative political model of pan-European appeal, in the bud. They are attacking Syriza in order to finish/end/stop/kill Podemos and Sinn Fein.”

And, disgracefully, they are supported in this by Enda Kenny (along with the Spanish government) who is standing with the Troika against the Greek people and against the interests of the Irish people.

An important debate

These issues raised by this situation were discussed in an important and well attended debate in Dublin on 25 March. The main speakers were Professor Helena Sheehan of Left Forum and Socialist Worker editor, John Molyneux. Both speakers emphasized the major importance of Syriza’s victory and their solidarity with the struggle of the Greek people.

But there were also differences. Professor Sheehan spoke of her long standing involvement and identification with Syriza. She felt it combined the best of the old and the new left in Europe and was opening up the possibility of transforming Greek society in a way that could serve as a model for us all.

John Molyneux said he was worried that the Syriza government was cooperating with capitalism rather than pursuing an anti-capitalist strategy and quoted Finance Minister Yannis Varoufakis’s statement that it ‘the left had to save capitalism from itself’.

There was a full debate from the floor with a number of well informed contributions which showed how closely people are following the situation in Greece. Everybody agreed on the need for solidarity but one speaker felt it was wrong to criticize Syriza in any way because we are not Greek. But others pointed to the difficulty of implementing anti- austerity policies while not breaking with the system.

The issue of the state

Two main issues emerged in the discussion. One was whether it is possible for the left to ‘harness the power’ of the Greek or any other capitalist state for anti-capitalist purposes. John Molyneux , James O’Toole and others argued against this idea and stressed the need to mobilize the working class from below.

Ronan Burtenshaw argued that it was possible to use governmental power to gradually gain more control over the state and the economy. Helena Sheehan said we had to ‘stop dreaming of storming the Winter Palace’ [as happened in the Russian Revolution] because ‘there are no Winter Palaces anymore’. Instead Syriza was working to ‘transform the state’ in an anti-capitalist direction.

The second key issue was Greek membership of the Euro. If Syriza cancels the debt and implements its election programme it will be thrown out of the Eurozone but a large majority of the Greek people want to stay with the Euro.

Ronan Burtenshaw spelled out what he saw as the dire consequences of leaving the Euro – the poverty this would inflict on the Greek people. John Molyneux replied that this showed that exiting the Euro was not enough on its own; it was also necessary to break with capitalism and start expropriating the wealth of the rich.

Implications for Ireland

What is clear is that this debate will continue on the Irish and the international left as will the struggle between the Troika and the Greek people. The Troika is demanding the implementation of ‘reforms’ as a condition for providing the Greek governments with emergency funds but in reality these ‘reforms’ are serious cuts to pensions and wages; thus inflicting even more poverty on the desperate Greek people.

So these issues will not go away and they have huge implications for Ireland. Ireland is paying €8 billion a year interest on the bankers’ debts. We can’t have a decent society if we keep doing that so the question of whether or not we are prepared to defy the Troika and unilaterally cancel the debt is one the left in Ireland has to answer.

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