Syriza Is Not Extremist

Greece : Calling for a Change

Farooque Chowdhury

Two years after the Greek program began, the IMF looked for historical examples where Greek-type programs, attempts to pay down debt through austerity without major debt relief or inflation, had been successful. It didn't find any.

So now that Mr Tsipras has won, and won big, European officials would be well advised to skip the lectures calling on him to act responsibly and to go along with their program. The fact is they have no credibility; the program they imposed on Greece never made sense. It had no chance of working.

If anything, the problem with Syriza's plans may be that they're not radical enough. Debt relief and an easing of austerity would reduce the economic pain, but it's doubtful whether they are sufficient to produce a strong recovery. On the other hand, it's not clear what more any Greek government can do unless it's prepared to abandon the euro, and the Greek public isn't ready for that.

Still, in calling for a major change, Mr Tsipras is being far more realistic than officials who want the beatings to continue until morale improves.

The people of Greece experienced tricks of bourgeois economy, its forgery in accounting system, its so-called accountability and sham-transparency over the years. They experienced capitalism's "innocent" business speculation. Their experience got enriched with bubbles bankers created and busted. And, they experienced bankers' political power.

Over the years, capitalism in Greece created havoc. It brought speculation, and crises. These ultimately brought in capitalism-made disasters in the life of the people. Chain of incidents appeared as text book on capitalism, its real face, capacity and character. In the life of the people, that was a Greek tragedy.

The people in Greece were "awarded" with the state's mismanagement with accounts, faults in the state's accounting system, which were actually lies. Capitalists tried to make people believe that their state machine doesn't know mathematics although the state was running all the shows of ruling over the people, counting debts and interests without error, finding out tricky ways to transfer all its loads of failure on the shoulder of the people, and feeding bankers' hunger. The same state machine calculated the number of employees to be retrenched and the public institutions and establishments to be sold out to feed the "starving" bankers.

The "efficient" acts virtually dismantled the people's normal life. Their economic life was shattered as they found sick public health services, rickety educational institutions, crumbling public works. Unemployed, hungry citizens turned facts of daily life in Greece. Groups of people went back to rural areas simply for survival, simply for having three meals-a-day; mothers were failing to feed children; middle class homes took appearance of Third World poor's shelters; company executives, members of middle class were standing in food lines. Suicide rates increased in the  society. The austerity program turned out a, as Alexis Tsiparas said, "vicious cycle".

Starving Greeks found bankers began dictating Greece. Orders were issued from bankers' financial and political centers. It was not a Greek government, but a bankers' troika—the European Union (EU), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB)—began ruling the life of the people. There were bankers' dictations: put this public institution on the auction market, retrench this number of employees, cut down pension, and let the people starve, and let the people enjoy punishment for the misdeeds they have wrought.

The people found a regime change in the country as the bankers demanded. The people experienced capitalism, its crushing power, bourgeois democracy, its ultimate accountability—to the dominating interests. And, they experienced loss of dignity and honor as their fate was being debated in the parliament of another country, a Third World experience.

There were frustration and protests. There were marches and demonstrations. And, there were police batons, use of people-control equipment, and police barricades obstructing people's march. The people were not allowed to reach parliament. The parliament was responsive to the troika, the international banking bosses, to Brussels and Berlin.

Greece stood as one of the burning examples of debacles in bourgeois democracy. It was a shameless show.

In 1947, Truman declared measures concerning Greece and Turkey that got an identity: Truman Doctrine. One of the sentences in the doctrine said: "[W]e must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way." It was a sentence formed shrewdly. History laughed. The people in Greece were "assisted" to work out their "destinies" in bankers' way! The Great Financial Crisis helped find out the fact.

A far-right force with masked Nazi face—the Golden Dawn—was gaining ground in Greece as usually happens during periods of crisis. It was spewing flames of hatred with the idea "I'm the best", a complete Nazi philosophy, an anti-people idea. Labor from other countries were being threatened and assaulted.

This perspective—financial/banking/credit crises;, dictation, humiliation, austerity, hardship, poverty, unemployment, starvation, and people's aspiration for a better, dignified and honorable life—brought SYRIZA to the forefront. Planned, consistent, organized political work instead of only slogan-mongering and only festoon-wavering mobilized the people, and people have expressed their aspiration reflected in the just concluded poll result.

But crossings of politics are there. Arithmetic of bourgeois democracy is there. And, there are games, plans and tricks of and pressure from bankers. A few of the tricks, are in Athens and a few are in other capital cities. Warnings have already been issued. Carrots have also been shown.

Jens Weidmann, the Governor of the German Central Bank, said: Greece will continue to receive assistance provided that the agreements made are upheld. There are no considerations for a debt haircut. In Germany, the ruling CDU party has already insisted: Greece should stick to the austerity program. Rating agency the Standard & Poor's in a statement warned: It may downgrade rating of European countries where Eurosceptic parties may assume power. The S&P considers SYRIZA as one of the most "credit negative" parties. SYRIZA has to face those.

Once again, scientific theories on capital, finance, bank, class power, state, and people's organization, awareness and mobilization will be put on test in Greece. It will be an opportunity to learn. Not only will the people of Greece learn from the lesson. People of other countries, especially the countries in Europe will also learn from the experience.

A failure or success of SYRIZA will lead to many questions, and possible answers. Compromises and adjustments are to be made as the left coalition lacks functional majority. The left coalition leadership has to find out variations in compromises. Adventurist slogans will not help.

Syriza is not bed of radicalism, and yet the UK media, much of the European media and obviously the US media are making out that Syriza are a threat not only to Europe, but no doubt the world—which Greeks can only hope is right, for at long last it seems people are awakening and coming out of the shadows to see the world for what it is and those legacy parties, be they left or right, for what they are. Corporate whores no less.

Vol. 47, No. 36, Mar 15 - 21, 2015