Sunday 5th of July 2015 was a special day. In the referendum the Greek people voted no with a majority as much as 61,31 % to the austerity measures demanded from the Troika. One week later prime minister Alexis Tsipras went back to Greece from Brussels with a package of significant worse austerity measures than the PEOPLE SAID NO TO. And on Wednesday the Greek Parliament voted yes to this deal with the Troika. How could this possible happen?
When Tsipras agreed to the latest austerity deal he asked the vultures to compromise. When they said no, he had no Plan B but surrender. This tell us Marxists that compromises and reforms within the capitalist system always will fail in both shorter and longer terms. Stathis Kouvelakis from Syriza’s central committee argued in a debate on the recently held Marxism Festival in London that “Syriza is an anti-capitalist party. It is a party that seeks to overthrow capitalism and go to socialism.” For Stathis, Syriza’s radical aims and roots in social movements set it apart from reformist parties “that seek to improve the conditions for the working class within the framework of capitalism”.
Of course Syriza was a new fresh alternative compared to the state Labour Party, other conservatives and their clones and clowns. As Stathis is part of a large and outspoken left wing inside Syriza too, they have made a clear criticisms of the government’s strategy. They have called for an exit from the European Union instead of endless concessions to it.. But there is a big BUT here!
Those kinds of criticisms are ineffective unless you act. When the Greek parliament voted Friday 10th of July to sign off on worse austerity than Greece’s referendum had just rejected, only two Syriza MPs voted no. Another eight abstained, seven stayed home, and 15 said no while voting yes in the hope of defending the government. Members of the organised Left Platform were scattered on all sides. BUT here there should have been a concerted vote against the agreement—and then those MPs should be out on the streets calling for mass opposition and protest.
It is obvious to Marxists (I hope) that all reformist plans to try to use the capitalist state to bring about change will see this state always change them more than they have changed it. Revolutionary socialists instead have to look to the struggles of the working class. This isn’t out of dogmatism and realism. It’s because this is the only way to win. Workers keep the wheels of capitalism turning. Their movements can bring it to a halt. That is what Syriza leftist together with other socialist and communist must try to do. Greece’s crisis has posed questions that only workers’ control can answer. And the existence of a party arguing this was central to countering the bosses’ blackmail in the referendum. But now the leadership of the party have failed so far. And the protest have already began.
Big protests have been seen outside the parliament in Syntagma Square on Wednesday. Christos Arghyris, a union representative at Athens’ large Gennimatas hospital, said to Socialist Worker about the situation:
“We used our votes as a weapon against austerity,” he said. “Now we’re going to use the weapon of strikes. We’ve called a general strike across the public sector on Wednesday of this week, with a mass demonstration against all the new austerity measures. It was an easy decision. Workers are responding to the new agreement the same way they responded in the week of the referendum. They are just as angry as they were when they voted no.
Then they were angry at the blackmail from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Now they are angry at prime minister Alexis Tsipras for signing a deal with them—Greece’s third ‘memorandum’ of austerity. The working class in Greece is not stepping back. And that struggle will continue, with more general strikes on every day parliament votes on the austerity measures.“
In ancient Greece around 490-80 BC the Athenians together with the Spartans and other Greeks fought 4 battles against the huge Persian army and fleet with king Dareios I first and later his son king Xerxes I on their thrones. The Greeks won them all and by them made a different history than without this outcome. Will they this time win over an even bigger threat than the Persians: the austerity measures, the Troika and in longer terms, capitalism itself?