Sunday, July 26, 2015

Question

Are the only ones who understand Marx, as opposed to Marx-ism; who understand that Marx was first and foremost a revolutionist, that all Marx wanted to do was to place social revolution on the strongest, definitive,  irrefutable platform possible: are only those who identify with anarchism; who draw their inspiration from Situationist texts; who in fact spit on everything and everyone who already reeks of accommodation to things as they are, which of course, is only the relation that is?

I think so.  Nobody understands Marx but those who spit from top to bottom on the bourgeoisie, who can't even utter the term without spitting. 

FWIW, I know I have never written "bourgeoisie" without spitting.  I keep a bucket by my desk.

July 26, 2015

SA(S)R Syndrome Moves On

Short-Attention-Span-Radicalism has quickly recovered from its setback in Greece,  finding solace in  its own unique spin on Joe Hill's supposed last words-- "Don't mourn, Don't organize; Forget, Ignore, Repeat." The SARs brigade made up of VIBs; SIPs; near, neo, quasi, democratic, semi, hemi, demi, erratic, mo, po, po-mo socialists is done sitting shiva for Greece and has moved on to its next challenge, its once and future failure, Britain.

"Greece?  Oh, that's so yesterday. Greece? What did you expect?  Greece?  We told you it wasn't a revolutionary situation," say our SARs.  "We're over Greece."

The VIB, Richard Seymour, is once again waxing, and waning, eloquent in this demonstration of obsessive-compulsive behavior, this repetition in the service of failure.  Opining on the candidacy of Jeremy Corbyn for the leadersip of Britain's Labour Party, Seymour writes that Corbyn is the candidate the Conservative Party most fears.  Absolutely correct, but the Tory fear is miniscule compared to that of the Labour Party itself.  Seymour points out that the right-bloc of the party threatens a split, a coup, collective suicide, but not yet car bombings, if Corbyn wins.

Panicked by the flood of new members into the party, the "right bloc" [if such a thing can be said to exist in this party] has called for the election to be suspended until a proper check of the credentials of the new members can be vetted, highlighting how dangerous becoming the majority really is to the right-bloc of the Labour Party.

John Mann, Labour MP, has written that the election "threatens to become a farce" due to the return to the party of "some of the Militant-Tendency types," proving once again that Labour may be "a big house" but it's a mortgaged big house,  a sub-prime ARM with a big fat balloon payment callable at the whim of the bankers.

Corbyn, loyal first and last, says he only wants "genuine Labour supporters"  Says Corbyn, "I only want people to register as Labour supporters if they are genuine supporters and intend to stay for the longer course."  Word.

Really?  Sure thing.  Seymour says:
So, Corbyn could win.  This does not mean that I am going to pay my £3 and join up as a 'supporter' in order to vote for Corbyn.  There's quite a lot of bandwagon-hopping at the moment - it was the same with the Greens last year - and joining the Labour Party just to have a vote and then leaving is pointless.  Why vote for Corbyn if you're not going to hang around and try to support him and try to reconstitute the Labour Party?  He'll be weak enough against the established power of the old right-wing bureaucracy, without a big chunk of his base fucking off the day after the polls close.  Corbyn will not win by pulling in outside forces who have no interested in the Labour Party's long-term future, and no identification with it; he will win by shaking up the Labour Party, and drawing in new members who are just becoming politicised. 
Indecisiveness is essential to the manifestation, and maintenance of SAR syndrome, so a paragraph or so later, we get:
However, that tactical point doesn't change the overall situation, and it doesn't mean we don't have a responsibility to support Corbyn's bid...It's not just the Labour Left that is weak.  It is the Left as a whole.  Yes, Corbyn would be relatively isolated at the top, and top-heavy successes are extremely vulnerable.  Yes, he will be trying to shift the balance of forces in favour of the Left, in a situation in which our forces are incredibly depleted. But it is a structural aspect of today's situation that in the growing vacuum created by the breakdown of the old party-base relationship, individuals and groups can suddenly project influence well beyond their actual social basis, if what they say finds an ideological resonance in lived experience.  We don't get to change that just be force of will.  So we have to work with the grain of our few advantages.  Corbyn has made a breakthrough, and that presents opportunities that it would be stupid and irresponsible to opt out of.
 Well, what do you know?  What can you say,  after you say: 

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.

To market, to market, to buy a fat hog,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog.

To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done

We can say: "let's try this"-- Everywhere in Seymour's article for the words Tory, Conservative, Tories, substitute New Democracy; for the word Labor, substitute PASOK, for Corbyn substitute Syriza or Tsipras (your pick).  Now read it again.  Does this sound familiar?  To those not (yet) infected with SARs (no guarantees as to anyone's "natural" immunity), it should.  

For our VIP bogger, not so much. It must be  the deep shock of Syriza's capitulation, a "world-historic" defeat that compels Seymour into one more iteration of repetition in the service of failure.  However, if it really is a "world-historic defeat" then surely it deserves an analysis, an explanation, an examination, something more material than the pathetic sentimentality Seymour has provided. 

Or maybe-- maybe the so yesterday events in Greece aren't a defeat at all, a position advanced by Panitch and Gindin and echoed oddly or not by Insurgent Notes, which after producing a single article in 2010, couldn't muster another examination of the struggle in Greece until this -- seven paragraphs in half-an-article, which more rather than less, dismisses the events, as its author later makes explicit in his comments, as not amounting to a reversal to the struggle against capitalism in Greece, Europe, the globe.   

I wish I could say I'm surprised by this lack of insight, the superficiality of analysis, the disavowal of  and disdain for the struggle in Greece promoted by Insurgent Notes.  I am not.  So-called "left communism"can be just as much leftism as anything and anyone else-- concerned with its own status, its own credentials, its own package.

There has been a reversal in Greece.  The struggle against capitalism has suffered a defeat.  Still, history hasn't come to an end.  It's not quite yet over in Greece.  Greece 2015 is not yet Chile 1973.  It's not yet time to move on and plan the next disaster.   The class struggle in Greece deserves better treatment. 
July 26, 2015

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What a Difference a Year Makes

                                                        Mix and Match

2014

 "This is not our Europe. This is only the Europe we want to change.  In place of a Europe of fear of unemployment, disability, old-age and poverty; in the place of the current Europe that redistributes income to the rich and fear to the poor; in place of a Europe in the service of bankers’ needs, we want a Europe in the service of human needs."


"Finally, the real issue facing the Greek left is how to unite people on a class basis against a ruling class that is tightly coupled to the German bourgeoisie. Syriza offers a framework for revolutionaries that will enable them to connect with millions of Greeks who have not yet achieved a revolutionary consciousness. Unlike the Greek Communist Party, Syriza is relatively open and transparent—a function of the “reformism” that Callinicos disdains. The alternative to the CP and Syriza is the tiny and inconsequential Antarsya that is united around the need for revolution but a “reformist” party that can begin to serve as a pole of attraction for revolutionaries. In the event that Syriza is elected and fails to carry out its mandate, it will be up to its left wing to push the agenda for overcoming austerity in the only way possible: overthrowing Greek capitalism."


"The fact is that the leaders of erstwhile socialist parties have been talking the talk of responsible capitalism for a very long time. It was how they covered their tracks as they retreated from offering people a way out of the rat race of capitalism – rather than compensation for being losers in it – even in the postwar era. Those who imagine that the progressive reforms achieved in that era stand as proof today that a responsible capitalism is possible are sorely mistaken. On the contrary, the undoing of those reforms after just a few decades shows that a responsible capitalism is indeed a contradiction in terms.
************************************************************************
2015

"On the basis of the massive defeat of the forces behind the Yes vote in the referendum, and the opposition party leaders resignation, the other mainstream party leaders joined with Syriza in backing the plan the Institutions had rejected before and coupled that with support for Syriza's position. This was that once the plug had been pulled on the extension of the old government's memorandum, they would all support coupling fiscal restraint and structural reforms with substantial debt restructuring and investment funds in immediate negotiations on a new three year memorandum..

The hope that this might be pulled off was enhanced by indications that the U.S. government was putting pressure both on the IMF and the Merkel government. This was fed by IMF signals on the importance of very significant debt restructuring in a new three year deal...


What Alexis Tsipras and (the new Finance Minister) Euclid Tsakalotos took to the final negotiations last Saturday, as passed by the Greek parliament, was not all that different than the plan that has been forwarded to the Institutions and rejected before the referendum. And they took courage from the fact that the negotiations were now about a new three year deal rather than continuing the drip-feeding from the old memorandum with which they had been strangled from February to June. There was now even a clear split on the side of the European interlocutors over whether to accommodate what Tsipras was bringing to the table. "  

"I am long past the point when I expect anything different.  I never had an(y) expectations that Syriza would be victorious...I take everything in stride."                        
 
"I acknowledge the fiscal measures are harsh, that they won't benefit the Greek economy, but I'm forced to accept them."


_____________________

Full disclosure:  Even I get sick of my sarcasm at times.  I acknowledge what a harsh, severe, relentless, abrasive bastard I am, when it comes to these things.   Really.  But how else can you deal with the selective memory loss, the cognitive dissonance, that is so essential to the pathology that is repetitive leftism?

July 16, 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Hard Way

The Hellenic Parliament has voted to approve, and will presumably implement, the demands of the Troika accepted on July 12 by the prime minister, who now states he doesn't support the agreement although he will implement it, and urges its approval.  The comes five days after the prime minister promised "the bigger the 'No' vote [on the referendum regarding the Troikas final, but expired and off the table offer], the better the deal."   It takes a lot of processing power, and storage capacity to keep up with the prime minister's different positions.

Inside the parliament the vote was 229 in favor to 64 against.  Thirty two of the "no" votes came from Syriza MPs.  Deputies from Syriza's coalition partner, the right-nationalist ANEL party, brought into government because of its principled agreement with Syriza's original position of "no further memorandums, no further bail-outs," voted unanimously for the agreement, which means the "principle" is now in direct contradiction to what it once was, but the partners are still allied.

The Tsipras government is now a minority government.  It depends for its existence on the support of PASOK and New Democracy and To Potami.  

Outside the parliament, the police are protecting the parliamentarians from the street protests with batons and tear gas, the purchases of which are not subject to Troika scrutiny.  


Well....a reader wanted to know why I thought "repudiating the debt was better than the status quo."  There are multiple reasons.  First and foremost, there is no status quo.  That's the critical point.  As bad as things are now, they will be much worse with the burdens placed on Greece through this agreement and the next memorandum.  Secondly, all those things forecast to occur if Greece repudiated the debt-- "the loss of tourism, further drops in foreign investment, social turmoil"-- will occur under the terms of the new memorandum, or without a new memorandum.  There is simply no possibility for "recovery," if such a word even has meaning any longer, of Greece's capitalism. 

The reader then asked "how would Greece defaulting be a better option for the prospects of a global revolution CONCRETELY?"  Concretely, repudiating the debt would pretty much bankrupt the ESM, jeopardize the ECB, and undermine the capital markets worldwide.  Now that in itself is not a seizure of power, but it's not a bad start.  Concretely, repudiating the debt attacks the claims on labor that need to be enforced to preserve capitalist property.  Concretely, repudiating the debt threatens every mechanism of exchange, and control, that the European bourgeoisie have fashioned in their grand alliance of the European Union.  Concretely, repudiating the debt would have a tremendous impact on the poor, the pensioners, the unemployed of Greece posing the question of the purpose of production along class lines.  Concretely repudiating the debt would have an equally dramatic impact on workers in Spain, Portugal, Slovenia, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Germany, Hungary.  Concretely, repudiating the debt undercuts the appeal of the fascists to the unemployed, the youth, the marginalized.

Would Europe retaliate?  Of course.  Would Greek assets be seized?  Of course.  Would living conditions in Greece deteriorate?  Undoubtedly.  This isn't 1960; Greece isn't Cuba; and there is no Soviet Union to subsidize the country. But...

But...I flip the assertion right back to those who argue against repudiating the debt:  there is no choice.  The alternative to repudiating the debt has proven itself catastrophic.  Repudiating the debt is an essential first step to reversing the catastrophe.  Don't take that step and nobody goes nowhere. 

Is it "hard"? Complicated?  Difficult?  Painful?  Of course.  And there is no alternative.

Back in the day, so many years ago that I can only dimly recall, after the collapse of Lehman Bros. and after Maiden Lanes 1,2,3, and all the special facilities, there was the same type of argument about TARP.  Then, Doug Henwood of the Left Business Observer, supported the TARP intervention to stabilize the credit-system, because (if I recall the argument correctly) the alternative was the collapse of the entire financial network, and a massive global depression.  The alternative it was thought was too horrible to contemplate.  Hence one had to support the government rescuing the bourgeoisie.

One did not.  One does not.  The collapse of the system is preferable to its maintenance, to its reproduction, to its recovery.  Because....the recovery of this system is much more horrible to contemplate than the after-effects of repudiating capitalism in part and in whole.  No I don't think things have to get worse before they get better.  I just think capitalism gets worse without getting better.

July 15, 3015
how would Greece defaulting be a better option for the prospects of a global revolution CONCRETELY?" - See more at: http://thewolfatthedoor.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-third-time-is-charm.html#comment-form

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Third Time Is the Charm

2010-- The government of Greece is bankrupt and cannot service it's sovereign debt.  The economy is near collapse.  First bailout memorandum, familiarly known as the Kick-The-Can-Down-the-Road Memorandum is agreed to.  Economy continues to contract.

2012-- The government of Greece is bankrupt and cannot service it's sovereign debt, most of which is owned by commercial and private financial institutions.  The economy is near collapse.  Second bailout memorandum, familiarly known as Eat-Shit-And-Die Memorandum is agreed to.  Commercial and private financial institutions balance sheets are rescued.  Economy is that much nearer to collapse.

2015-- The government of Greece is bankrupt and cannot service its sovereign debt, most of which is now owned by the official institutions of European and international capitalism, the ECB, the governments of Germany, France, Italy, Spain either directly or through the EFSF, whose last active program was the assistance program for Greece, which expired on June 30, 2015.  EFSF continues to exist but only to service the bonds it issued to bankroll its operations and its assistance programs, receive payments, and maintain continuity as the ESM takes over all responsibility.

The Greek economy has effectively collapsed.  Tsipras, the Prime Minister and leader of the Syriza party establishes a referendum for the Greek people to reject the "last offer" of the EU lenders, vowing that "the day after the referendum, negotiations will resume," and "the bigger the 'NO' vote [on those previous terms] the better the terms [of the new agreement that results from the new negotiations]."

Tsipras is, and has been, in so far over his head he has to look up to see the bottoms of his own shoes. Tsipras appeals for a third bailout.  Instead he receives and supports an "agreement", familiarly known as the Hung-By-the-Neck-for-Our-General-Amusement-Agreement, that may, if certain conditions are met, possibly lead to a third memorandum.  Oh boy, can't wait for that.

2015-- Tsipras, who's penchant for self-aggrandizement is matched and supported by an astounding inability to accurately evaluate social forces and "economic outcomes,"  states that while he does not "believe in" the new memorandum, he will implement it; that he signed the agreement in order to "avoid disaster for the country," which of course has suffered catastrophically from the previous memorandums; that he has no plans to resign, and that the the terms of this agreement "were milder" than those of previous agreements. 

Well, taking his "personal plans" first in dealing with this topsy-turvium  pathology of Tsipras', it doesn't matter what he plans, as has been so made so painfully clear to the most casual observer.  He doesn't plan to resign?  That's nice.  And irrelevant.

Reports are that ANEL, whose seats gave Syriza the majority necessary to form a government will vote against the agreement when it reaches the floor of the Hellenic Parliament.  Now the vote on this agreement will be one of the two most important votes the parliament has taken since January 26, 2015, the other being the vote of July 10, so I expect a good half-dozen or so of Syriza MPs, including Varoufakis will have personal matters of a higher priority demanding their time, and won't attend the session.  And another good half-dozen or so will actually find the nerve to vote "no."  

The KKE and the Fascists are sure "no" votes, so Tsipras's faction in Syriza will be dependent upon "yes" votes from PASOK, and New Democracy. This vote, no matter which way it goes is a vote of confidence in the Syriza government with all votes meaning "no confidence."  Tsipras is done. Gone.  Cooked. Maybe he gets a severely reduced pension, but we can hope not. 

Now as to this current agreement being "milder" than the last pre-referendum offer.  This agreement commits the Eurozone, the IMF, the ECB, the ESM to absolutely nothing.  This "agreement" is a set of pre-conditions that Greece must satisfy before negotiations towards a new MOU can even be initiated.  So we cannot compare the terms of this agreement to the terms of the last proposal made by the Troika prior to the referendum.

This is more than a technical detail, but more than technical details have never been exactly the strong point of Syriza's administration. 

What the agreement does require is that the Greek government modify the VAT to suit the demands of the Troika. 

What the agreement does require is long term, comprehensive reform of pensions to the satisfaction of the Troika.

What the agreement does require is that the Greek government comply with the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, which stipulates that government deficits cannot exceed 3% of the GDP and that government debt does not exceed, or is sufficiently declining towards [emphasis added] 60% of the GDP.

What the agreement does require is full implementation of that same treaty such that automatic spending cuts are triggered in case of deviations from targeted primary budget surpluses.

What the agreement does require is changes to pension laws to offset the cost of the decision by Greece's Constitutional Court in 2012 declaring illegal the cutting of benefits to those who received both main and supplemental pensions, an estimated "clawback" by the EU from Greece of €1.022 billion.

The agreement does require implementation of OECD "Toolkit 1" to "enhance" competitiveness in various retailing and merchandising sectors with the application of OECD "Toolkit 2" anticipated for the manufacturing sector.

The agreement does require privatization of the country's electricity transmission network.

The agreement does require "reform" of labor markets to comply with "European best practices" when it comes to mass dismissals and layoffs.

The agreement does not require the transfer the transfer of €50 billion in national assets to a privatization fund, in that pre-valuation of assets prior to market sale does not satisfy the demand to fund this special facility to the €50 billion mark from the sale of assets.  The €50 billion realized from the sale of assets having as yet unknown total costs, pre-crisis notional value, or any other measure, will be used to "pre-refund" the debt occurring from any new memorandum and recapitalizing the banks (€25 billion), decreasing the debt/GDP ratio (€12.5 billion) and "investments" (€12.5 billion).

The agreement does require the review of legislation, with the exception of the emergency humanitarian package, enacted by the Hellenic parliament since February 20, in order to amend any laws that "backtracked" on previous commitments.

These are the "minimum requirements" that Greece alone must fulfill before any negotiations for debt relief, extended terms, additional funds provided by the ESM can take place. 


So there are no new terms that are milder than in previous agreements, because there are no terms of any agreement.  There are minimum requirements placed exclusively upon Greece before any negotiations regarding any possible agreement will even be entertained.

Now all the PhDs in the world-- the Leos, and Sams, and Hans, and Yannis-- can try to spin this as an "undefeat."

All the idiot movie-reviewers, semi-socialists, and friends can plead that Syriza, poor little Syriza was overwhelmed because life and systems and computer networks and writing code are just too complicated for anybody other than--well, themselves, when up until now everybody else was arguing that those same computer networks made it so much easier to "manage" socialism, to really match production to need (see Cockshott's works).

All those who yesterday proclaimed that the job of revolutionists, Marxists, etc. was to join Syriza "in order to keep it honest" can pretend that joining Syriza was anything ever than the dishonest effort to pre-empt the prospects for social revolution.

The institutions of European capitalism know better.  They know blood when they smell it.  They know victory when they taste it.  And the blood of the people of Greece is the taste of victory in the mouth of the Troika.

July 14, 2015








Monday, July 13, 2015

Dear Leo, Dear Sam

Shut up, you should excuse the harsh language.  Put a sock on it.  Close your gob.  Be quiet.  Just shut up.  You don't know what you're talking about and you keep talking about it so it's gone from simply being embarrassing to being  annoying to being pathetic to being downright offensive.  So shut  up.

Yesterday you're all about not jumping to conclusions, about waiting for the outcome of that momentous day.  Today, after we know the outcome, a plan so severe, so demanding, and so dismissive of Greece as anything other but a body to be bled dry that it  leaves Vlad the Impaler envious, you're back at it,  ass-backwards at it claiming that the Left Platform within Syriza and all those arguing for leaving the Eurozone were advocating a "non-starter." And of course, your starter is to completely ignore  yesterday's momentous day.

You proclaim that the Eurozone "clearly" sees  "that Syriza is a left party with socialism in its DNA, and one that whatever the constraints of staying within the EU, will continue to challenge European and global capitalism."  Well that settles it, then.  Wolfgang Schäuble, Mario Draghi, and Christine Lagarde will tell us what's socialist, and what's not.

My response to that nonsense:  "You wanna bet?"  You wanna bet that Syriza is not done, cooked, out the door, crumbling gone, dismissed with extreme prejudice?
 


Socialism in its DNA?  Exactly how does a political formation get socialism in its DNA?  Are we talking fertilization of zygotes here?  Acquired characteristics?  Lamarckian evolution? 

Not a word do you offer about Syriza's separation and isolation of the program of austerity from servicing the debt.  Not a word do you offer about Syriza's separation and isolation of debt service from maintaining its membership in the European Union.  Not a word do you utter about Syriza's separation and isolation of membership in the European Union from ongoing support for European capitalism. 

And with all that silence, you tell us that Syriza's DNA was socialist.

You probably don't recognize your "argument" for what it is, but it is nothing other than the argument the big C Communist Parties used to discipline supporters, followers, and opponents in the 1920s, 1930s, and beyond, with the CPs claiming  the legacy of,  the genetics of the Russian Revolution as a badge of authority. 

Bullshit then, bullshit now. 

Maybe there is and maybe there isn't such a thing as "socialist DNA," but if there is then the only sure thing is that within the body of Syriza, the socialist gene is regressive and cannot be expressed in or by the host organism. 

So just shut up.

July 13, 2015


The Action is the Man

On Friday, July 10, 2015, when the Hellenic Parliament voted on the "Tsipras submissions" to the EU, Yannis Varoufakis, former minister of finance, and current MP, wasn't there.  He wasn't there to vote "yes" "no" or "present."  Yanni-boy was a no-show, begging off due to pressing personal matters.

Priceless, no?  After the referendum, after all his blogging this and blogging that, after all the pictures on the motorcycle with his wife (only one helmet, and we know Yanni-boy wasn't sharing), after all the posturing, after all the rhetoric, the bag of wind couldn't bother showing up at the official conclave of bags of wind, to open his mouth, raise his hand, or press a button.

There's a man who takes his responsibility to the office to which he was elected-- as a representative of the people-- so deeply to heart that he skips a decisive vote in parliament to tend to his vacation home.

If the Syriza  had a hair on its ass, which it does not, it would designate all of Varoufakis' property for immediate assignment into the privatization fund. 

Meet the Paris Hilton of  "radical" political economy, Yannis Varoufakis.  He's his own chihuahua, a shivering, yapping dog.

July 13, 2015

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Twits and Tweets

Leo Panitch, "Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science and Canada Research" or so it says on his business card ("available for weddings, bar mitzvahs, IPOs, and reality TV shows" it says on the flip side) has published this gem on Syriza where he demonstrates that nothing is more distinguished when conducting research than the disavowal of reality.

Distinguished Professor Panitch, mainstay of Left Forums, World Social Forums, and in-line skating contests,  thinks he's skewering Richard Seymour, and all others, who regard the Hellenic Parliament's approval of Syriza's latest pleadings to the Troika, as a "world-historic" defeat.

Distinguished Professor, never having previously expressed critical opposition to Syriza's "programs" (which hardly merit the label) or to its "strategy"(which was anything but) is miffed that Seymour has rushed to judgement before the day is out, the sun has set, thereby casting a pall over cocktail hour in Athens, Frankfurt, and Brussels. "What a brute, a vulgarian, that Seymour is.  Pass the Roditys, and the crackers with that pink fish stuff on it, what's it called?" bemoans our Distinguished Professor Panitch

Says our Distinguished Professor Panitch (among other things):

The real situation is this, as we await the outcome of what will in fact be a momentous day.  If there is in fact some significant debt restructuring and investment funds in a deal today and this is not effectively tied to further conditionality, this would offset many times over the four year $12 billion plan for fiscal surpluses in the plan just passed by the Greek parliament.  Of course, even if this the effective outcome of this weekend's final maneouvres, this will require some political sophistication to discern since it will be concealed somewhat so that other European leaders can disquiese this from their electorates, whose attitudes the Northern and Central European labour movements have done little or nothing to change.  Tsipras would need to explain this well to get people to understand the significance of the victory he--and they with their support in the referendum--would have pulled off.  

It will not be a "world historic" victory, for those who like such language, since it will still involve tying the revival of the Greek economy to the fate of what remains a very much capitalist Europe, but this would not mean that the Syriza government would exclude itself from the continuing struggle to challenge and change that.

Distinguished Research Professor Panitich is awaiting the outcome of today's (12 July 2015) negotiations between Greece and the European Union.  "The outcome of a momentous day," awaits he, the Distinguished Research Professor, detecting sings of life in the pithed frog government that is Syriza.   

Seymour of Lenin's Tomb was an enthusiastic supporter of Syriza, projecting his own wishes for "victory" over austerity unto that party.  Seymour embraced the illogic of attempting to separate austerity from debt, debt from membership in the EU, and the EU from capitalism.  So it's understandable that he's heartbroken and confuses his despair with "world-historic" events, just as he confused his own magical thinking with Syriza as a force for socialism.

Seymour at least recognizes that something has gone not exactly well in the course of events, even if he doesn't yet recognize that went badly from the getgo. Seymour is as VIB, and not yet a PhD not to mention Distinguished Research Professor, which probably explains why he's not looking on the bright side of life like professor Panitch.  Difference between those tenured and those not, I suppose.

So what about this momentous day?  Going well, is it?  Not according to the Guardian.  "Mental waterboarding was how they described the treatment of Tsipras.  Demands upon demands to cede financial authority to the EU.

A correspondent for the same Guardian tweeted that the EU placed the following demands on the table:

1. Streamlining VAT
2. Broadening the tax base
3. Sustainability of the pension system
4. Adopt a code of civil procedure
5. Safeguarding of legal independence for Greece ELSTAT-- the statistical office
6. Full implementation of automatic spending cuts
7. Meet bank recovery and resolution directive
8. Privatize electricity transmission grid
9. Take decisive action on non-performing loans
10. Ensure independence of privatization body TAIPED
11. De-Politicize the Greek administration
12. Return of the Troika to Athens

These proposals themselves represent a compromise on the part of the Troika, tweeted Wolfgang  Schäuble, #wolfslair, Germany's Minister of Finance, in that they did not include: 

13. demand for the beheading of Yannis Varoufakis
14. display of the severed head in the Hellenic Parliament for 30 days
15. leasing of the Parthenon in perpetuity to EuroDisney
16.that the Greek government officially change the names of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle to Johann, Adolph, and Friedrich
17. did not require the chaining of Tsipras to Kazbek Mountain in the Caucasus where his liver was to be pecked out by Imperial eagles (but only because the Caucasus is controlled by Russia, and Putin wouldn't agree to terms)


There is indeed an important defeat going on here-- a defeat based on Syriza's success in muffling class struggle, in demoralizing workers, in frittering away time as the economy slips back into recession. Only a very distinguished research professor could be so comfortable in his self-importance as to so boldly display his complete ignorance, his total disregard for reality, his disdain for the class struggle, the class war of the bourgeoisie, of bourgeois property against the needs of and for the emancipation of labor.



Dear Leo, you haven't been paying attention to current events, but you just got the shit kicked out of you back there in Athens, Brussels, and Frankfurt, even if you're too stupid to notice the size 14 boot sticking out of your ass. 

Advice for making a revolution:  exclude those with graduate degrees in political science, political economy, economy, philosophy, political philosophy, political economic philosophy, from providing advice, or participating in the struggle.  Exclude all of themTheir loss, and loss of them, is our gain.

July 12, 2015
 



Saturday, July 11, 2015

All In

Worth repeating:
No, that was not the stake.  At stake was another bailout of Greece. On top of debt forgiveness.  On top of a moratorium.

Greece is structurally incapable of retiring its debt in the next ten, twenty, or thirty years.   Greece is structurally incapable of generating sufficient revenues, no matter what level of austerity is applied, to meet more than a fraction of the costs of the "plan of four pillars."

Syriza's game, such as it was, was to capitalize its weakness. Literally.  Somewhere along the line, they believed not only their own μαλακίες, but the bollocks of others that if you owe enough, it's not your problem, it's the lenders. 

So let's pick up the thread of development again.  Syriza thinks it holds the trump cards in its empty hand.  Syriza believes its empty hand is the trump card.  Syriza can adjust, backdown, compromise, resubmit proposal after proposal because it has its eyes on the prize-- another bailout necessary to keep it functioning in the Eurozone.

The Troika recognizes the game for what it is.  It's determining strategy is to avoid another bailout.  It must avoid another bailout or the ESFS [European Financial Stability Facility] would be...depleted.  ESFS exposure to Greece is estimated at €141 billion,  about 30 percent of the mechanism's lending capacity, and 20 percent of the total guarantees made by the eurozone member states.  Germany, France provide half the guarantee total, with Italy and Spain providing another 30 percent.  Any new bailout of Greece would have to retire the old debt, meaning either the debt gets redeemed by the mechanism, or its guarantors.

The Troika has its eyes on the prize also, and that prize is Italy where debt loads are too large to be guaranteed by the ESFS; where the economy, having experienced triple-dip recessions cannot afford to meet further commitments to the stability facility.  The Troika knows what's at stake; what's essential to the functioning of the block of the European bourgeoisie.  And it ain't Greece.  Never has been.
Syriza has requested another bailout.  It is not going to happen.  Schäuble plays this game better than Varoufakis, Tsipras, and all the radical political economists put together, because he recognizes it isn't a game.  At stake is Italy.  Listen up, Renzi: the continued devastation of Greece is the object lesson of a European Union of capital, for a European Union of capital, by a European Union of capital. 

Now that's the "front page" story.  The back story is coming to grips with the grinding defeat facilitated by Syriza.  So......all in.
 

1. I think I was one of the first to draw an analogy, or a parallel between Syriza and Allende's UP government in Chile. That being said, Tsipras wouldn't make a pimple on Allende's ass, and Syriza (with its bogus Thessaloniki program of a "new New Deal" and one more Marshall plan), in comparison to the Socialist Party of Chile of that time wouldn't even make it into the "left" category. Syriza was, is, and remains a consciously pro-capitalist formation, of by and for continued domination of capital. Allende, and the Socialist Party of Chile were not.

2. The UP government was elected by a workers' upsurge whereas Syriza gained its credibility by demonstrating how effective it could be in pre-empting demonstrations, strikes; channeling struggle into "democratic expressions" of support for the European Union, and Greece's "partnership" with EU capitalism.

3. The "left" outside of Syriza has to come to grips with its uncritical support for an explicitly pro-capitalist formation. Moreover, the "left" outside of Syriza has to come to grips with the failure of the left platform within Syriza-- that it registered only 2 "no" votes against the Tsipras proposals. All other "no" votes came from...........the fascists and the KKE.

4. The "left" is organically incapable of confronting either issue.


5. Advocating demonstrations against the government (which government will be out of office shortly) has its role, purpose, and function, and part of those is facilitating, and covering, efforts to building an underground apparatus that can protect militants, workers, immigrants from the repression, and the assaults from official and unofficial sources that are sure to follow.

July 11, 2012 
No, that was not the stake.  At stake was another bailout of Greece. On top of debt forgiveness.  On top of a moratorium.

Greece is structurally incapable of retiring its debt in the next ten, twenty, or thirty years.   Greece is structurally incapable of generating sufficient revenues, no matter what level of austerity is applied, to meet more than a fraction of the costs of the "plan of four pillars."

Syriza's game, such as it was, was to capitalize its weakness. Literally.  Somewhere along the line, they believed not only their own μαλακίες, but the bollocks of others that if you owe enough, it's not your problem, it's the lenders. 

So let's pick up the thread of development again.  Syriza thinks it holds the trump cards in its empty hand.  Syriza believes its empty hand is the trump card.  Syriza can adjust, backdown, compromise, resubmit proposal after proposal because it has its eyes on the prize-- another bailout necessary to keep it functioning in the Eurozone.

The Troika recognizes the game for what it is.  It's determining strategy is to avoid another bailout.  It must avoid another bailout or the ESFS [European Financial Stability Facility] would be...depleted.  ESFS exposure to Greece is estimated at €141 billion,  about 30 percent of the mechanism's lending capacity, and 20 percent of the total guarantees made by the eurozone member states.  Germany, France provide half the guarantee total, with Italy and Spain providing another 30 percent.  Any new bailout of Greece would have to retire the old debt, meaning either the debt gets redeemed by the mechanism, or its guarantors.

The Troika has its eyes on the prize also, and that prize is Italy where debt loads are too large to be guaranteed by the ESFS; where the economy, having experienced triple-dip recessions cannot afford to meet further commitments to the stability facility.  The Troika knows what's at stake; what's essential to the functioning of the block of the European bourgeoisie.  And it ain't Greece.  Never has been. - See more at: http://thewolfatthedoor.blogspot.com/#sthash.ZPKgP7hb.dpuf
No, that was not the stake.  At stake was another bailout of Greece. On top of debt forgiveness.  On top of a moratorium.

Greece is structurally incapable of retiring its debt in the next ten, twenty, or thirty years.   Greece is structurally incapable of generating sufficient revenues, no matter what level of austerity is applied, to meet more than a fraction of the costs of the "plan of four pillars."

Syriza's game, such as it was, was to capitalize its weakness. Literally.  Somewhere along the line, they believed not only their own μαλακίες, but the bollocks of others that if you owe enough, it's not your problem, it's the lenders. 

So let's pick up the thread of development again.  Syriza thinks it holds the trump cards in its empty hand.  Syriza believes its empty hand is the trump card.  Syriza can adjust, backdown, compromise, resubmit proposal after proposal because it has its eyes on the prize-- another bailout necessary to keep it functioning in the Eurozone.

The Troika recognizes the game for what it is.  It's determining strategy is to avoid another bailout.  It must avoid another bailout or the ESFS [European Financial Stability Facility] would be...depleted.  ESFS exposure to Greece is estimated at €141 billion,  about 30 percent of the mechanism's lending capacity, and 20 percent of the total guarantees made by the eurozone member states.  Germany, France provide half the guarantee total, with Italy and Spain providing another 30 percent.  Any new bailout of Greece would have to retire the old debt, meaning either the debt gets redeemed by the mechanism, or its guarantors.

The Troika has its eyes on the prize also, and that prize is Italy where debt loads are too large to be guaranteed by the ESFS; where the economy, having experienced triple-dip recessions cannot afford to meet further commitments to the stability facility.  The Troika knows what's at stake; what's essential to the functioning of the block of the European bourgeoisie.  And it ain't Greece.  Never has been. - See more at: http://thewolfatthedoor.blogspot.com/#sthash.ZPKgP7hb.dpuf

Friday, July 10, 2015

Get Ready

The Guardian is reporting that the Hellenic Parliament has adopted Alexis "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" Tsipras' latest proposals for "economic adjustment." The report identifies 250 votes "for," 32 votes "against," and 8 abstentions.  Ten members apparently didn't show up. 

It appears from the tally that Syriza party MPs accounted for all of the abstentions, seven of the no-shows, and only two of the "no" votes.  So much for the "left platform," of which so much was made, in which was placed so much hope, just as before so much was made of and so much hope was placed in Syriza itself.  

So Tsirpas has rendered his (near) final services to the maintenance of Greek and European capitalism-- a)proving the insignificance, irrelevance of "left platform" formations; how they embody all the sterling qualities--equivocation, bluster, duplicity, cowardice-- of the broader electoral alliance in which they participate;  b) removing any further need for his government and his party to exist; and c)setting the stage for eclipse, dispersal, and probable suppression of parliament itself as protests, temporarily quelled by Syriza's election, move back into the streets, as the economy resumes its death spiral, as the police and the military find themselves reinvigorated by capital's  demand for "Order!". 

I'm guessing that the "no" votes were cast by the KKE (Greek Communist Party) and XA (Golden Dawn), at least that's  what I come up with from the numbers.  The KKE has 12 seats, and Golden Dawn has 17, and maybe there's one, but probably only one ANEL MP who voted no. 

So now what happens?  First, the struggle is now as it always has been-- extra-parliamentary.  Golden Dawn has been expanding and consolidating its extra-parliamentary gangs, and extra-parliamentary activity-- everything from collecting "protection" money to providing medical treatment for Greeks only-- throughout the memorandum period. 

"Responsible action" by Marxists requires, first and foremost, construction of an underground network, embedded in working class areas that can protect activists, organizers, immigrants from official and unofficial repression.

That's a good enough place for a start.

July 10, 2015


And now......

And now, the struggle in Greece becomes much more difficult, and much more dangerous.  The bankruptcy of the "old parties"-- PASOK and New Democracy, and the demoralization of the poor, the workers, the pensioners, those working in community medical clinics in order to try and maintain some social welfare,  by Syriza's capitulation will lead to an upsurge by the worst of the right, by the fascists. 

All the forces of repression are looking forward to a Golden Dawn.  The forces of repression have been handed an opportunity that only Syriza, in its abject incompetence, its "game-playing" could create.   

That, dear comrades, is exactly why I have been so stridently critical of Syriza and its leftist cheerleaders.

July 10, 2015

Thursday, July 09, 2015

The Five Stages of Leftism

                                                               When No Means Yes

1. Denial

I don't believe it.  This can't be real.  I just spoke with/saw him/her/they/it and he/she/they/it looked so good. The doctors, and doctorates, were optimistic.  He/she/it/they promised.  Ignore the papers, ignore the press.  Put cotton in your ears.  Don't say another word, I'm not listening.

2. Anger 

Son-of-a-bitch.  Bastard.  Fuck me.  How could he/she/they/it do something like thatTraitor(s). Coward(s).  It's all the fault of those damn ________ (fill in the blank: possible choices-- bankers, Stalinists, Stalinists and bankers, Trotskyists, anarchists, black bloc, PhDs, professors, Americans, Germans, German-Americans, German-American Stalinist PhD banker professors).

3. Bargaining

Look, slow down.  Maybe it isn't all that bad. OK, we agree to the terms, the banks reopen, the money returns, we get some debt reduction, then maybe the economy recovers, and when it recovers we push through certain legislation to modify the program.

4.  Depression

Jesus, this is just terrible.  And so sudden.  You know what, I give up.  I just give up.  I can't even get interested in movies any longer.  We worked so hard. We had so much going for us.  All that effort.  That big turnout.  That humungous vote. I just don't know if I have it in me to go on any longer.  I'm going back to school.  I'm going back to teaching.  I'm going back to on-line gambling.

5.  Acceptance

Yes, it's bad.  Yes it hurts.  What can you do?  We fought the good fight.  So we lost. These things happen.  We were never really that strong.  Things just didn't work out, this time.  But look, life goes on.  There's my family and my friends, and my teaching.  And on-line gambling.  And we'll be wiser for the experience.  We won't make the same mistakes again. There will be other opportunities in the future, and we'll do it right.  Look how popular Podemos is in Spain.  I feel better already. Spain, that's the ticket.   Yeah, in a couple of weeks, I'll be ready to get right back into it and start stumping for Podemos.  Hit me, dealer. Blackjack!!


July 9, 2015



Monday, July 06, 2015

FWIW

1.Others, not myself of course, might regard the comments, prognostications, predictions, assertions, of the pro-Syriza "leftists" of the international internet brigade with more seriousness if they bothered to learn the English transliteraton for the name of Greece's current prime minister.

Τσίπρας becomes T-S-I-P-R-A-S.  TSIPRAS, not TSIRPAS.  That's how he spells it on his webpage.

2. Meanwhile, the Gang that Can't Spell Straight is happily proclaiming that "Greek workers vote NO to austerity."  Technically not.  They voted 'no' to the terms as last proposed by the EU finance ministers, and backed up of course by the EU primer ministers, the ECB, etc. etc.  They voted in support of T-S-I-P-R-A-S' claim that two days after the 'no' vote, he will have secured a better deal.

3."A better deal" will be  within the framework of concessions that T-S-I-P-R-A-S has already made, which as the Gang has so frequently pointed out, is the best Greece can do, and is so much better than actually rejecting austerity, which would involve certain dramatic actions made by  new actors in this currently sorry play. 

4. No "better deal" will be obtained without recapitalizing the Greek banks.  The European Union will not recapitalize the Greek banks without T-S-I-P-R-A-S agreeing to some form of bail-in-- that's B-A-I-L  I-N.

5. No matter how badly you may misspell T-S-I-P-R-A-S, it means the same thing it meant before the referendum:  λιτότητα

July 6, 2015


Sunday, July 05, 2015

We Interrupt This Referendum, Part 2

1. Tearing away, just for the moment, from Thunderdome on the Aegean--"Break a deal; face the wheel"-- there's the island commonwealth, Puerto Rico, part of the United States when that's convenient and lucrative for the Federal government; and not part of the United States when it's not convenient.  Like now.  When it has $72 billion in debt that the commonwealth acknowledges cannot be serviced.  Then...then Puerto Rico is a special case.  It reports statistical information to the US Department of Commerce and the Federal Reserve, but it gets its own country page on the World Bank website; and it gets its own statistical database.

Puerto Rico's economy gets a critical, and helpful. look from the Federal Reserve.   It  gets another critical, but helpful, always helpful,  report, authored by Anne Krueger (formerly of the IMF, and currently married to Freddy),  Ranjit Teja, and Andrew Wolfe (no relation). These reports tell us what went wrong and what to do about it.  That's what makes them so helpful.

Anyone can point out after all, that labor force participation rate for the population in Puerto Rico aged 24-54 is at about 43 percent vs. 63 percent for the mainland USA.  Anyone can point out that GDP growth since the end of the official recession in 2009, has been less than 1/4 of that on the mainland.  Anyone can point out that manufacturing, seizing the incentives of Federal tax breaks that ended some years ago, began to close shops in the recession of 2001.  Anyone, even I, can tell you that the annual percentage change in fixed capital formation has slowed dramatically; turned negative in 2000; that the gross amounts have trended downwards over the last 10 years.

But it takes an economist to tell you the reason for these indicators of distress is that Puerto Rico's minimum wage is the same as the mainland's. 

2.  Puerto Rico isn't Greece.  Puerto Rico is not a sovereign country, cooking its books to join a monetary union.  Puerto Rico is not subject to balance of trade difficulties.  Puerto Rico isn't Greece, but capitalism is capitalism, and when capital attacks its "fixed" accumulated component, devaluing the means of production, closing shop, it necessarily must also attack its living component-- which happens to be the lives of those working and not working; the lives of the working poor and the unemployed poor whether in Europe, or Asia, or the Americas.

The Krueger report and NY Fed's report find that the fact that the minimum wage in Puerto Rico amounts to an obstacle to economic expansion, to labor market efficiency, investment, because unlike the mainland United States where the minimum wage is only equivalent of 28 percent of per capita income, the minimum wage amounts to 77 percent of the per capita income.  The minimum wage is just too close to the average wage, so, according to the economists, there is insufficient advantage to employing workers at the minimum wage.  You see, Puerto Rico is poor-- it has difficulty becoming "competitive," "expanding the economy," and most importantly servicing the debt-- because it isn't poor enough.  That's what economics amounts to: the ideology of poverty.

The solution?  Any economist can tell you the obvious solution.  Lower the minimum wage, of course.  Get an exemption from the federal minimum wage for Puerto Rico.  Sure thing, if only Puerto Rico were its own country, then this problem could be solved and with haste.

3.  What else?  Puerto Rico has established sponsored public sector corporations and authorities, empowered to issue bonds for raising revenue to invest in power generation, like the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, transport, like the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority, Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority.

Now as part of its program to make the island attractive to investors, the commonwealth reduced, and has maintained the reduction, of corporate and personal income taxes.  Taxes on corporate profits can be in the 0-4 percent per year bracket for as long as 15 years, and the benefit is renewable upon the expiration of the 15 year allotment. 

In order to undertake the upkeep and upgrade of infrastructure essential to the production and circulation of capital, power and transportation, these authorities have to issue bonds, and the bonds have to be collateralized by a portion of the revenues generated by the fees charged to the corporate users of the power and transportation infrastructure.   Reduce the fees, either "actively" or "structurally" be intentional action, or "passively" "organically" by a decline in economic activity and guess what?  The revenue stream is inadequate to service the debt and sustain the infrastructure.

The solution?  Of course, restrain the public sector corporations and allow "private competition" to access the networks built by these authorities so that the private competition can charge lower user fees.   This is nothing but the latest iteration of the "Washington Consensus" that tells us all things are better with private enterprise.  That's the ideology.  The practicality of course is that privatization leads to decay of networks (Railtrack, anyone?).  The practicality is that in periods of economic downturn and distress, private enterprise engages in asset stripping, asset liquidation.  Anyone other than an economist can tell you that.

4.  So before we return to Greece, where the population has decided to foot one more business class ticket to Brussels for Tsipras and co., let's just be clear what's going on here:  there is no such thing as economics.  There is capitalism and its ideologues.  There is the class struggle, however horribly muted, disorganized, seemingly feeble, against capital's reproduction of its slasher self.

Oh...and Alexis?  That ticket is one way, no returns.

July 5, 2015


We Interrupt This Referendum, Part 1

Here's all we need to know about the difference between voting "όχι" or "ναί" on the referendum in Greece:  a "no" vote means, in the words of the current prime minister, "I can assure you that the next day, I will be in Brussels and there will be a deal;" a "yes" vote means that the next day the replacement prime minister will be promising to go to Brussels and secure a deal.

Meanwhile, the poor, literally, Greek people-- the working poor, the unemployed poor, the pensioned poor, the unpensioned poor, the urban poor, the rural poor-- should, no matter which way the vote goes, say hello to their little friend... Cyprus.

The Greek banks require capitalization.  Capitalization means money.  It can come from "equity" arrangement; it can from debt issuance; and/or it can come from seizing the money that actually belongs to somebody else, that somebody else being the depositors.  Clearly, nobody is going to subscribe to an offering of stock in the Greek banks.  Just as clearly, the Greek banks cannot issue debt in the capital markets, and the Greek government requires its own recapitalization in the form of issuing short-term notes to the Greek banks in exchange for euros. 

No recapitalization of the Greek banks, which are tied hand foot to the ECB system, will be forthcoming without there first being a bail-in, a seizure of a portion of the deposits that the banks supposedly hold in trust, a trust guaranteed by...well not by the ECB since the monetary union is nowhere near that unified, but rather by the Greek government.  

Given that government's deliberate delay in imposing capital controls. the big account holders, with the big money,  have already moved significant portions of their funds outside the jurisdiction of the government.  That leaves....everybody else.  That leaves maybe 10 million (I'm guessing) or so people whose individual accounts average (and I'm merely guessing) €13,000 who are about to get a haircut by Jack the Ripper that will take the average account size down to about €9000.  How's that for sticking it to the IMF, the ECB, the European Commission?

Some people call that a haircut. Some people call the referendum "democracy."  Democracy is when "no" and "yes" mean the same thing.

The  "no" that matters is the "no" to Syriza's deluded pretensions at "negotiatons."  The  "no" that matters is the "no" to Syriza's delusions of actually being a government.  The "no" that matters is the "yes" to repudiating the debt in its entirety. 

July 5, 2015

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Latest News

Australians to rally for Greece, against blackmail  

(cancelled)


Solidarity with the Greek People! OXI (No) to the Bankers' Blackmail!

(cancelled)

July 1, 2015

More than Twice, Less than Zero

We all know what Marx said Hegel forgot.  We don't know what Marx would have said about the third time, or the fourth time, or the nth time.  And not just about historic personages; but about political parties, social "programs," about all the pathetic spectacle than makes up "revolutionary democratic socialism," "radical political economy," the attempt to put a "human face" on capitalism.

Here Karl, let me help:
"revolutionary democratic socialism"-- like the Holy Roman Empire, wrong on three counts;
"radical political economy"-- employment opportunities for oxymorons;
"capitalism with a human face"--  Jack the Ripper.

Marx wasn't one for brevity.  Let me help with that too.  More than twice, Less than zero.  Pathological.  Repetition compulsion.

Back in January, Syriza convinced the Greek voters that it could win a write-off of the Greek sovereign debt from the Troika; that it could obtain a "significant grace period in debt servicing;" exclude public investment from the restrictions of previous agreements; rebuild the welfare state; lead the country to productive reconstruction and recovery; increase public investment by €4 billion; gradually reverse all memorandum injustices; gradually restore wages and pensions to increase demand; provide incentives to small businesses for expanded employment; build a national reconstruction plan that would eliminate the humanitarian crisis, restart the economy, promote tax justice, regain employment, and deepen democracy.   All this, and at a profit too, with the cost of this grand economic program less than the revenues generated.  Everything would be just about perfect, and capitalist too.

Now Syriza's numbers were, pardon the expression after you look it up, μαλακίες. But then, who's counting?  Certainly not its supporters among the left.  Certainly not its battery of oxymoronists.

The numbers, however,  do get us to an interesting insight into Syriza's "game playing."  Syriza had convinced itself, and a large section of the Greek population, that the Troika would never risk the exit of Greece from the eurozone; would never force Greece into a state of insolvency.   Syriza portrayed itself as indispensable to Greece remaining in the eurozone, and it portrayed Greece remaining in the eurozone as indispensable to the Troika.

Nothing goes right once you start believing your own μαλακίες.


Syriza  figured that getting the last tranche of the funds provided by the 2012 Memorandum would provide the money to seed the clouds around its program with silver linings.  How much are we talking about here?  We're talking a really small amount-- like €7.2 billion (vs. total outstanding debt of more than €300 billion), with €1.6 billion of that payable to the IMF... today June 30.  So we're talking about €5.6 billion, less than the €10 billion that Cyprus needed when its banks went all pear-shaped.

That's it?   €5.6 billion?  That's all that was at stake?  No, that was not the stake.  At stake was another bailout of Greece. On top of debt forgiveness.  On top of a moratorium.

Greece is structurally incapable of retiring its debt in the next ten, twenty, or thirty years.   Greece is structurally incapable of generating sufficient revenues, no matter what level of austerity is applied, to meet more than a fraction of the costs of the "plan of four pillars."

Syriza's game, such as it was, was to capitalize its weakness. Literally.  Somewhere along the line, they believed not only their own μαλακίες, but the bollocks of others that if you owe enough, it's not your problem, it's the lenders. 

So let's pick up the thread of development again.  Syriza thinks it holds the trump cards in its empty hand.  Syriza believes its empty hand is the trump card.  Syriza can adjust, backdown, compromise, resubmit proposal after proposal because it has its eyes on the prize-- another bailout necessary to keep it functioning in the Eurozone.

The Troika recognizes the game for what it is.  It's determining strategy is to avoid another bailout.  It must avoid another bailout or the EFSF [European Financial Stability Facility] would be...depleted.  EFSF exposure to Greece is estimated at €141 billion,  about 30 percent of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) lending capacity, and 20 percent of the total guarantees made by the eurozone member states.  Germany, France provide half the guarantee total, with Italy and Spain providing another 30 percent.  Any new bailout of Greece would have to retire the old debt, meaning either the debt gets redeemed by the mechanism, or its guarantors.

The Troika has its eyes on the prize also, and that prize is Italy where debt loads are too large to be guaranteed by the ESM; where the economy, having experienced triple-dip recessions cannot afford to meet further commitments to the stability facility.  The Troika knows what's at stake; what's essential to the functioning of the block of the European bourgeoisie.  And it ain't Greece.  Never has been.

Which gets us.......here, to the referendum scheduled for July 5 by Syriza.  Then the Greek electorate will be asked by Syriza to approve or reject the terms offered by the Troika in a sham presentation the likes of which the world hasn't seen since Spiro Agnew admitted his guilt, pleaded no contest, and proclaimed his innocence all at once.

For the "left" who have dutifully supported Syriza; which has proclaimed that negotiating the terms of the 2012 Memorandum was a lesser evil than leaving the Eurozone; which has argued that seizing the banks, establishing capital controls, expropriating major industries would "only make things worse," the "logic" -- if such a word can ever be applied to this conclave of  tics-- should compel it to agitate for a "YES" vote, as after all, the "real trouble" starts when and if Greece repudiates the debt; abrogates the 2012 Memorandum. 

But logic isn't the point, and the referendum is meaningless.  Five months later, five months of capital outflows, five months of economic deterioration, five months of not establishing a single pillar of its four pillars, Syriza wants a referendum on the terms for fulfilling a memorandum that has expired; on a program that no longer exists.  Timing is everything.


I stated previously that the referendum should not be boycotted. Now I don't think it matters if the referendum is boycotted.  It doesn't make a bit of difference.  The conflict is not now what it never was: initiating some nonsense "New Deal,"  separating austerity from capitalism,  establishing better terms as a "partner" with the bourgeoisie of the Eurozone.

The referendum is less than sound and fury signifying nothing.  It's less than zero.  A tic.  The trembling of a dead body.



July 1, 2015