Communist Youth Organization

The Youth Branch of The Workers’ Communist Party of Iran

Chia Barsen: Greece and revolutionary leadership

Alexis Tsipras has announced that he is leaving the left-wing Syriza party. Syriza, a movement that attempted to reify the Greek people’s hope for an escape from the abject poverty inherent in austerity, was pushed back by European economic powers (especially Germany) in every negotiation: blackmailed by economic bankruptcy and capital flight. Despite the anti-austerity referendum that was engineered to provide further bargaining power for Syriza at the European negotiations, the neo-liberal poverty and starvation bailout terms for the Greeks was inexorable.

While the neo-liberal media, reverberating its hegemonic narrative of profligate use of resources by the Greeks and “what is good for the business is good for the Greeks”, the left-wing media has been busy debasing the Syriza movement as a betrayal of the Greek working-class. One of the main arguments made by the left-wing media is that the Syriza administration has turned its back on the anti-austerity platform that it was originally elected for. Other arguments that the left-wing media make are based on a media research into any anti-Marxist ideas or phrases a member of the Syriza may have said. Further, from my own readings, I have yet to see a writer that actually attempts to actualize the economic situation of Greece and use it to reify a possible nascent alternative.  

The economic numbers speak volumes about the current position of Greece, with 26% unemployment and 44% of the population below the poverty line and 80% of the work force in the service sector. These numbers are the manifestations of years of neo-liberal robbery. Neo-liberalism’s penchant for deindustrialization (sending manufacturing jobs to south Asia (cheap labour)), breaking union and workers’ associations, shifting the cost of the reproduction of labour from the capitalist to the labourer (through tax cuts (for the capitalists) and social service cuts), and the erosion of the nation state (economic independence/workers’ bargaining power) has left countries such as Greece in the state it is today.

Capitalism has a tendency to roil reality with inordinate economic details of its exchange value system. However the use values necessary to replenish/reproduce labour is not at all complex. The worker requires a home, food, safety, education, and healthcare (basic human rights) to be able to reproduce his/her labour. However the exchange value system, especially that of Greece, after years of neo-liberal robbery, has forced Greece to import most of the above (or finance them) through the exchange value system, at an unconscionable exploitation rate. This economic situations inevitably oscillates political position towards the lenders, where they can accrue their profits via accumulation by dispossession: currently Greece is being forced to sell 15 of its major airports, public transportations, and Islands to German buyers. What is even further exasperating and insulting is the fact that much of the bailout money used to condemn the Greeks to abject poverty in all the above transaction is in fact fictitious capital: capital that was accumulated not through actual production of goods via proactive social labour, but through speculations and exchanges (often non-existent commodities) made in the Wall-Street casino:  fictitious money capital is used to buy things that are actually produced via productive social labour!

Although it may seem that the worker’s movement in Greece is occluded at every turn by finance capital, this may not be the case. Syriza was able to procure state power by growing in popularity during the years of anti-capitalism and ant-austerity movement in Greece. The European governments everywhere, were in a state of panic (as seen in the stock market), not because of Syriza coming to power, but the workers’ movement that was supporting it. It was the surfacing of the 99%, through an organized revolutionary party, that strikes fear in the heart of capitalism. However, this grass-roots power source was something that Syriza never actually utilized to its advantage. Instead of burnishing the revolutionary character of the Greek movement and to reinvigorate it through alliances with other working-class movements, Syriza chose to isolate and keep silent important economic negotiations and to maintain with the culture of keeping the people out of politics: a political strategy capitalism uses to encapsulate the class-struggle in society for its benefit. Rather than creating an on-going dialogue between itself, Syriza, and the working-class majority, for involvement and strategies to escape the myriad economic tentacles of the European Union, Syriza took the path of pure backstage silent negotiations. If two of the main ingredients in a making of revolution are class-consciousness (of which Greece does not lack) and revolutionary leadership, it seems Syriza did not utilize the juggernaut 99% working-class force that stood behind it. With millions of Greeks with their backs against the wall and ready to attack and tear capitalism to shreds, Syriza representatives still stood shy and defensive at the European negotiation table.  

Chia Barsen

www.chiabarsen.com
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