Greece: Syriza surrenders – without a fight!
Alexis Tsipras and the leadership of Syriza have betrayed the mandate given to them twice by the Greek people. Scarcely a week after 61 per cent of voters said Oxi!-No! they have presented a nearly identical proposal to the parliament in Athens, which has voted by 250 votes to 32 to endorse it.
To ensure that, if need be, he could defy his own party, Tsipras went behind their backs to strike a deal with New Democracy, the arch party of austerity. That is the measure of how eager he was to ensure a majority for total surrender to the Troika. In fact, however, the Syriza deputies overwhelmingly proved loyal to their party and disloyal to the working people and youth of Greece.
True,17 Syriza deputies did not vote for the plan; but only two of them had the courage to vote no. Eight abstained and seven were completely absent at the critical moment. What a confession of political bankruptcy and moral cowardice by the majority of Syriza’s “left” parliamentarians.They did not even have the standard opportunist excuse that the government might fall; the parties that imposed four years of Euro-torture on Greece were all certain to vote for it.
The basis of Syriza’s three year rise from the fringes of left politics to government was its promise to free people from the austerity embodied in the Memoranda agreed by previous governments with the Troika; the IMF-ECB-European Commission. All Syriza achieved was to change the names on the bottle of poison Greece has been swallowing for years; the Troika became the “Institutions”.
Of course, the main guilty parties are the capitalist rulers of the European Union with Merkel and Schaeuble as the hard-faced enforcers. They have browbeaten and blackmailed every Greek government. They have slashed the country’s GDP, created mass unemployment, wrecked its health and education systems. They have let loose their rabid media to spread hatred and contempt for ordinary Greek people. They are the real criminals.
The north European private banks started the process when Greece joined the euro, aided by the Greek oligarchs, the billionaire ship owners, Greek governments undertook grotesque quantities of debt because they would not tax these parasites. Greek pensioners, young people and workers did not benefit from all this but, after 2010, they paid for it, and how. Now they will have to pay for it all over again.
The proposal for €13bn of cuts and savings that Tsipras has offered the Troika is even more punishing than what was decisively rejected by the Greek people less than a week ago. It promises to run a primary budget surplus of 1 to 3.5 per cent of GDP until 2018.
It will progressively scrap discounted VAT rates for Greek islands, imposing a standard rate of 23 per cent. Income tax will be increased if “fiscal shortfalls” appear. This will mean that annual incomes below €12,000 (£8,600) will taxed at 15 per cent instead of 11 percent and annual incomes above €12,000 taxed at 35 per cent, up from 33 per cent.
Plans for the privatisation of state assets, including ports like Piraeus and the airports, will go forward. The retirement age for a basic pension would be increased to 67, with supplementary pensions for the poorest Greeks phased out by 2019. Peter Spiegel, for the Financial Times, tweeted: “It's pretty darn close to the one 61 per cent of Greeks voted ‘OXI’ against.”
Those who fostered illusions in Syriza will now make excuses for it saying it had no alternative but to surrender. This is not true.
The choice the Syriza leadership faced was clear; attack the working class in return for a new “Memorandum” and an extension of Greece’s debt-slavery or seize the wealth and property of the rich and appeal to the workers of Europe to help break the dictatorship of the banks and institutions that impose austerity across the continent.
Tsipras defended his proposal by arguing that Syriza had no mandate to exit the Eurozone. This is true, but it did not have a mandate to stay in the Eurozone at the expense of giving in to another round of savage austerity. Rejecting austerity was its prime pledge, the one it received growing mandates for from 2012 onwards. The Troika made it clear that defiance would mean exit and swift retribution from the markets.
In the rest of Europe, the workers' movement must not stop campaigning against their own governments and must demand an end to austerity in Greece. Their solidarity must be, not with Syriza and its leadership, but with Greek workers and youth fighting the new austerity programme.
To stop the government presiding over Greece’s transformation into a debt colony of the EU, the Greek working class must make the country ungovernable.
Those in the Syriza Left who have opposed the betrayal must call meetings of the Syriza grassroots across the country to denounce the betrayal and to prepare to break with the traitors who vote for it.
The left that campaigned for a No vote, and the KKE members who overwhelmingly voted no, must use their increased influence and authority to defend the result of the vote.
Bring the working class Oxi vote out into the streets; organise committees of action to defend the No vote and prepare to resist the sellout.
Occupy the workplaces, docks, airports, and utilities threatened with privatisation and demand their nationalisation under workers’ control.
Organise a united front with the KKE, Antarsya and all working class forces prepared to fight the pro-austerity parties and the Troika
The last few months saw the growth of a revolutionary situation in Greece, in which the popular masses in general, and the working class vanguard in particular, entered into open confrontation and class war with the ruling class. At the critical moment, the reformist leadership of Syriza buckled and chose to collaborate with our class enemies to attack the workers, youth and unemployed.
The months since the election show that the model of a “broad party”, with a reformist leadership tolerating a revolutionary minority, is not a model for anything except preparing yet another social-democratic betrayal.
It is time for revolutionaries within Syriza to expose and break with the reformist leaders, appeal for the foundation of a consistent revolutionary socialist party of the working class, and say that the choice is not between the drachma and the euro under capitalism, but between capitalism and a social revolution that puts power into the hands of the working class.