Local High School Star
Join Date: Mar 2007
Re: Jeff Berwick -Get Far Away From The U.S... Collapse Will Be Messy
syRizA oF gReece: The exAmPle FoR sUccess
As we survey the world of 2012, the one bright spot is Greece, where the Syriza bloc has rocketed from 4% of the vote to 27% of the vote, going from insignificance to the status of the main opposition party in just a few months, under conditions of extreme austerity dictated by the troika of International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, and European Commission. Syriza is an excellent example of what we must generally accomplish in the United States in the next few months.
Syriza has grown thanks to four necessary ingredients – organization, strategy, leadership, and program. Notice that Occupy has been telling you that all of these elements are bad. Let us examine them one by one.
As for organization, Syriza started from a situation of extreme fragmentation and impotence of anti-austerity forces. This was especially because so many unions and groups are controlled by the Socialist International, meaning that they had to support the Papandreou government, who were the ones implementing the austerity. More than a dozen general strikes had not stopped the killer cuts.
Syriza started as a united front of more than a dozen smaller organizations who decided to make common cause around the program. These were political parties, splinter parties, sects, groups, grouplets, political organizations, and the like. Alone, each one counted for nothing. United, they reached the critical mass necessary to be taken seriously.
Then there was strategy. Syriza was adamant that it would under no circumstances support austerity cuts against Greek working people. It would not lend its support or its votes in the parliament to a government carrying out austerity. This allowed the Greeks to recognize that Syriza was fundamentally different from the reactionaries of New Democracy, the Papandreou socialists, or other contenders. We need to apply the same principles here. The United Front Against Austerity must be based on the bedrock refusal of any and all layoffs, firings, wage cuts, cuts in social services, of any and all forms at the expense of the American people.
Who Will PAy FoR The dePRession? WoRking PeoPle oR WAll sTReeT
Since we are in a depression, the main political question is, Who Will Pay for This Depression? The Wall Street parasites demand that the cost of the depression they have created be shifted to working people. The United Front Against Austerity demands instead that Wall Street pay the cost of the depression it has created. All strategy flows from this simple idea.
Then comes leadership. Syriza benefited from a group of sophisticated and intelligent political cadre who had learned the necessary lessons from the post-2007 European banking crisis. Most prominent among them is Alexis Tsipras, who was born in 1974, just as the NATO backed dictatorship of Papadopoulos and the other Greek colonels was collapsing. Tsipras and his co-thinkers get credit for leading Syriza from 4% to 27%, and assuming the leadership of the opposition. Unlike the narrow chauvinism of so many European anti-establishment leaders, Tsipras has also understood the need to organize internationally from the get-go. During the last week of the election campaign, Tsipras visited Paris, where, under his influence, the leftist leader Melenchon rightly began talking about the need for a common struggle against the European Central Bank. In Berlin, Tsipras met with some leaders of Die Linke, the German leftist party, and the result was a joint European program of Die Linke and Syriza which has many valid elements. This is what serious politics looks like.
The French leftists and Die Linke are not ideal partners, but let us remember: you don’t go into the mass strike with the revolutionary party you’d like to have; you have to do it with the political forces you actually have.
The question of leadership is posed in the United States in a very acute form. If the leadership of any movement turns out to be Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore, with Amy Goodman providing the news reporting, that movement is doomed.
Finally, there is the most important ingredient of all – program, the one you actually start with, and which determines the rest. Syriza began with the categorical rejection of austerity for working people, be it in the form of wage cuts, firings, layoffs, tax increases, benefit cuts, service cuts, user fees or any other. Government workers and other workers who had been fired in the austerity campaign would have to be rehired immediately, with no loss of seniority
A second point was the rollback of repressive anti-union, anti-worker, and anti-collective-bargaining measures imposed in the framework of austerity. This would apply to the union busting assaults successfully carried out in Indiana, beaten back for the moment in Ohio, and still pending in Wisconsin and many other states.
A third point involved social and economic democracy. Much of this is specific to Greece, and need not be detailed here. In the United States, it is clear that police brutality, which has long targeted the black, Hispanic, and labor communities, is now being extended to middle-class protesters. The mass incarceration of black men and others, combined with the prison industrial complex, is creating a slave labor sector of the US economy which looks more and more like the concentration camps run by the Nazi SS. Part of the problem derives from the perversion of the war on drugs. This has become a war against the black and the poor, and it must be halted. The reality of the drug plague is that the CIA runs the drugs, and Wall Street launders the proceeds. We need to fight the CIA and Wall Street, and stop scapegoating the American people.
A fourth point in the Syriza program is that bankers who have committed felonies must go to jail. This stands in sharp contrast to the Obama administration, which has so far refused to bring any criminal indictments against the zombie bankers and hedge fund hyenas who created the world derivatives bubble and panic of 2007-8, and who have continued these activities ever since.
The fifth and final point of the Syriza platform is that illegitimate debts which have been contracted by corrupt politicians or sociopathic bankers and executives must yield in every case to the need of the Greek people for survival. This point specifies that if certain categories of international financial debt are found to be oppressive for the Greek people, they can and will be subject to a debt freeze or debt moratorium, meaning a halt in all payments of interest and principal. The debt moratorium has been a key element in the economic self-defense strategies of nations like Mexico in the early 1980s, Brazil in the 1990s, and Argentina after 2000. It is the legitimate assertion of national sovereignty and paramount national interest against the predatory international banking system led by the IMF and World Bank.
The leading role currently played by Greece could have been assumed two years earlier by Iceland, where the excesses of the zombie bankers had caused a general political crisis and mass strike movement in 2008-2009. By October 2009, key leaders of The Movement, the political formation which had emerged from months of demonstrations, were beginning to raise the demand for a debt moratorium in the Icelandic parliament. But, before long, the clever operative Julian Assange blew into town and convinced The Movement to turn away from the debt moratorium and instead join in his limited hangout operation inspired by Langley. As a result, Iceland never has declared a debt moratorium, and the value of its currency has shrunk by one half. Unfortunately, the standard of living in Iceland has also shrunk by about one half, and the Socialist International Prime Minister who still holds power in Reykjavík is still scheming about how to pay the debt.