Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

In Defence of Syriza against “Syriza delenda est”.

with 15 comments


We Backed Syriza then, and We Stand by our Friends.

Syriza delenda est   Syriza Must be Destroyed:

There is little doubt that this is the aim of the neo-liberals, from the hard right to the ‘moderate’ left  in the European Union.

But there is worse to come.

A commentator in the Financial Times has been moved to state,

Greece’s brutal creditors have demolished the eurozone project.

few things that many of us took for granted, and that some of us believed in, ended in a single weekend. By forcing Alexis Tsipras into a humiliating defeat, Greece’s creditors have done a lot more than bring about regime change in Greece or endanger its relations with the eurozone. They have destroyed the eurozone as we know it and demolished the idea of a monetary union as a step towards a democratic political union.

In doing so they reverted to the nationalist European power struggles of the 19th and early 20th century. They demoted the eurozone into a toxic fixed exchange-rate system, with a shared single currency, run in the interests of Germany, held together by the threat of absolute destitution for those who challenge the prevailing order. The best thing that can be said of the weekend is the brutal honesty of those perpetrating this regime change.

More via link above.

We learn that at Marxism 2015 this happened,

Alex Callinicos argued that Syriza might have a more radical programme than PASOK’s then, but was being not only nonetheless reformist; going against the OXI vox populi was clearly being treacherous. The hall erupted in cheers when Panos Garganas broke the news that he had to leave for Greece to attend a meeting of public sector unions for Monday towards calling a General Strike and the deepening of revolutionary pressures from below…”

And so it goes…..lectures from the SWP who backed a gaggle of groupuscules (Antarsya) that stood against Syriza in the Greek General election.

The Socialist Party, which at least had the merit of calling for a vote for a Syriaz, got its screams of treason in early.

Last week the published a statement from their own – not very numerous –  Greek allies,  a classic in Trotskyist ‘betrayal’ rhetoric.

Time for a new, mass revolutionary Left to oppose all austerity!

Editorial statement by Xekinima (CWI Greece), 10/07/2015

The leading group in SYRIZA and Alexis Tsipras have been proven tragically incapable of responding to the tasks of the moment and unworthy of the confidence of the working class. They are unworthy of the earth-shaking ‘No’ vote on 5 July which reverberated throughout Europe and the whole world.

They betrayed the confidence of workers, pensioners, the unemployed and the poor, who voted by 70%-80% in favour of No in the working class neighbourhoods and cities. They betrayed the great struggle launched by the Left and the working class, all across Europe, in support of the struggling Greek workers.

And yet, even at this time, the SYIRZA leaders around Tsipras have the gall to ask people to rally today in favor of ‘No’ because, supposedly, this ‘government of the Left’ needs the support of people in the streets! But why should the working class rally and demonstrate to defend those who have stabbed it in the back!

Like the Communist Party of Britain and other fragments of the British far-left who have wasted no time in denouncing Tsiparis  these are objective allies of  German Finance Minister Schäubleand, Europe’s neo-liberals, and the nationalists who want to see a return to “nationalist European power struggles.”

That is, they lay  the responsibility for the present impasse on those who did not create it.

If you want to know where the real blame lies it is important to read: Yanis Varoufakis full transcript: our battle to save Greece.  The full transcript of the former Greek Finance Minister’s first interview since resigning. (New Statesman).

This summarises the problem,

Varoufakis said that Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister and the architect of the deals Greece signed in 2010 and 2012, was “consistent throughout”. “His view was ‘I’m not discussing the programme – this was accepted by the previous [Greek] government and we can’t possibly allow an election to change anything.

“So at that point I said ‘Well perhaps we should simply not hold elections anymore for indebted countries’, and there was no answer. The only interpretation I can give [of their view] is, ‘Yes, that would be a good idea, but it would be difficult. So you either sign on the dotted line or you are out.’”

It is well known that Varoufakis was taken off Greece’s negotiating team shortly after Syriza took office; he was still in charge of the country’s finances but no longer in the room. It’s long been unclear why. In April, he said vaguely that it was because “I try and talk economics in the Eurogroup” – the club of 19 finance ministers whose countries use the Euro – “which nobody does.” I asked him what happened when he did.

“It’s not that it didn’t go down well – there was point blank refusal to engage in economic arguments. Point blank. You put forward an argument that you’ve really worked on, to make sure it’s logically coherent, and you’re just faced with blank stares. It is as if you haven’t spoken. What you say is independent of what they say. You might as well have sung the Swedish national anthem – you’d have got the same reply.”

We are not accustomed to abandoning our friends when they are in trouble, for all the complex comments and judgements that need to be made about this “coup” against democracy.

We will back Syriza – we feel this dans nos tripes.

Is there any hope?

This is one view:

Requiem at an Empty Grave?  Syriza’s Momentous Day Leo Panitch July 12, 2015

Did those who are already raising Lenin from his tomb to render quick judgement on Syriza’s abject “world-historic defeat” (without saying much about what victory would look like or require) actually bother to read the rather similar plans that Syriza put forward before the referendum and that were consistently rejected by the EU and IMF “Institutions”? This rejection is what the referendum was about. The resounding OXI was then used by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to secure the resignation of the leading political representative of the domestic ruling class (and former Prime Minister), Antonis Samaras, and to get all the party leaders with any such claim or ambitions to speak for that class to adopt Syriza’s position on the need for debt restructuring and investment funds. One might even say that if there was a class crossover involved here it was the other way around, one that looks more like what Gramsci meant by a hegemonic strategy rather than the way it is presented from the perspective of those standing on Lenin’s Tomb.

The virtually same formulations in Syriza’s plans that were just yesterday called intransigence by mainstream media in Greece and aped by the media abroad are now presented as capitulation in order to disguise the significance of this. This is not surprising but what is surprising is the immediate acceptance of this capitulation interpretation by so much of the Western radical left from whom one might have expected a rather more sophisticated reading and less quick rush to negative judgement. Of course, the latter view is shared by many on the radical left here in Greece, including those Syriza MPs who opposed or abstained on the vote in the Greek parliament. But in doing this, they only raise the question of whether the Antarsya strategy of Grexit (which obtained less than 1 per cent of the vote in January) is any more viable today than it was then.

Deal or No Deal?

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 is 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 disguise 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. On the other hand, if Tsipras walks away today accepting the same conditionalities as before to debt restructuring, and without any guaranteed investment funds on top of this, then it will indeed be interesting to see where Lenin will take us once he is let out of his tomb, and sees that he faces yet again the sad fact that a break in the weakest link could not break the stronger links of the labour movements in Central and Northern Europe to both domestic and global capitalism.


It looks as if we have accept that Panitch was wrong and that this is a defeat.

Or rather dressed up as this:

  • The Greek parliament must immediately adopt laws to reform key parts of its economy – by Wednesday. The reforms include: streamlining the pension system and boosting tax revenue – especially from VAT
  • A commitment to liberalise the labour market, privatise the electricity network and extend shop opening hours
  • The eurozone agrees in principle to start negotiations on a loan package for Greece worth €82bn-86bn (£59bn-£62bn; $91bn-$96bn)
  • The loan will come mainly from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) – the eurozone bailout fund. But the International Monetary Fund will also be asked to make a contribution from March 2016

The debt restructuring and the rest have come at the price of slashing public spending and a host of ‘free-market’ measures.

Above all privatisations: the railways and ports.

The problem was not the Syriza put ‘Europe’ above Greece, or the Greek popular masses.

The hard money and the hard women and men,  counted, and they were bullied, with – we have to admit, some protection (how limited, we have yet to weigh this up) by François Hollande.  According to Le Monde, he played a key part in keeping Greece in the Euro.

But frankly, was an ‘alternative’ based on a Grexit – a small country holding out with its own currency, bravely pursuing full-blown anti-austerity, a viable option?

Anybody we thinks this should read this (if they grasp some French): Que se passerait-il si un pays quittait la zone euro ?

It mentions interest rates at 12%, inflation running wild, and that’s just in the hypothetical case of France – a strong economy!

Now this may be fiction but it’s not too far off reality.

The supporters- like poor old Lenny of the Tomb – of this counterfactual are ‘aving a laugh.


Written by Andrew Coates

July 13, 2015 at 1:23 pm

15 Responses

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  1. The choice is very simple: Do Syriza want to be true to their left-wing origins, or do they want Greece to stay in the Eurozone? They cannot have both – on that I agree with the loansharks.

    Since it’s not mathematically possible to sustain EZ membership without defaulting, I say go ahead and default, fuck ’em. This is the problem with Lefties – they don’t have the balls to do what’s neccesary.

  2. Fuck who though is the question? Well done Andrew for staying solid, some leftists have the patience of a gnat. Tis a long game, not a single afternoon out on a demo shouting the workers united will never be defeated. Yes they have made mistakes, so what that is the reality of political life, they need our support more than ever today.

    For the first time we have a far left gov in power, yet should resign at the first major setback, of course not. Christ some of these comrades would have strung Lenin up for NEP let alone the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

    Wait and see how things pan out, for christ sake how did you think Capital would behave towards a Syriza government, stroke its tummy and say there there little one. Tsipras was not even back in Athens and comrades were calling him a sell out.

    I say again this is all about a long game.

    Mick Hall

    July 13, 2015 at 2:13 pm

  3. A voluntary Greek exit from the Euro is ridiculous.

    A moment’s look at the economics shows this.

    It is one of the more extravagant dreams that people from the wilder left-wing and nationalists go to when they get tired of their life in cloud cuckoo land.

    Andrew Coates

    July 13, 2015 at 4:40 pm


    Alex Andreou photo Alex AndreouAthens, Greece & London, UK13 July 2015

    We apologise to Marxists worldwide for Greece refusing to commit ritual suicide to further the cause. You have suffered from your sofas.

    It is revealing of the political landscape in Europe – indeed, the world – that everyone’s dreams of socialism seemed to rest on the shoulders of the young Prime Minister of a small country. There seemed to be a fervent, irrational, almost evangelical belief that a tiny country, drowning in debt, gasping for liquidity, would somehow (and that somehow is never specified) defeat global capitalism, armed only with sticks and rocks.

    When it looked like it wouldn’t happen, they turned. “Tsipras capitulated.” “He is a traitor.” The complexity of international politics was reduced to a hashtag, that quickly changed from variants of #prayfortsipras to variants of #tsiprasresign. The world demanded its climax, its X-factor final, its Hollywood dénouement. Anything other than a fight to the death was unacceptable cowardice.

    How easy it is to be ideologically pure when you are risking nothing. When you are not facing shortages, the collapse of social cohesion, civil conflict, life and death. How easy it is to demand a deal that would plainly never be accepted by any of the other Eurozone member states. How easy brave decisions are when you have no skin in the game, when you are not counting down, as I am, the last twenty-four doses of the medication which prevents your mother from having seizures. ”


    Andrew Coates

    July 13, 2015 at 4:56 pm

  5. “Like the Communist Party of Britain and other fragments of the British far-left who have wasted no time in denouncing Tsiparis these are objective allies of German Finance Minister Schäubleand, Europe’s neo-liberals, and the nationalists who want to see a return to “nationalist European power struggles.”

    Ah, the hoary old “objective allies” argument!
    Usually a prelude to a witch-hunt.

    On that basis, Zoi Konstantopoulou, the Speaker of the Greek Parliament is an “object ally” of the German Finance Ministry. So are the members of Syriza’s left Platform, who abstained on the vote to resume negotiations with the Troika.

    When the Greek Parliament reconvenes and these people vote against the deal with the EU, you’ll be forced to support their removal from office, despite the fact that they’re just as much a part of Syriza as Tsipras.

    If he’s forced to rely on the votes of New Democracy, Potami and Pasok to get the vote passed, you’ll have to support that too, even though it would be contrary to the decision of the Greek population in both the general election and referendum.

    If the Left is not seen to oppose the deal, the field will be open to Golden Dawn and the Independent Greeks to pose as the only effective opposition.
    These parties actually DO favour “Grexit” on the basis of independent capitalism; a policy which will hit Greek workers just as hard, but further enrich wealthy Greeks who have stashed money abroad.

    But I see you’ve taken a step backwards…..
    Is there still hope?

    Ipswich Pond Life

    July 13, 2015 at 5:28 pm

  6. There is not the slightest argument in you rant John.

    I said I backed Syriza, not any particular faction within it.

    Who do you support then?

    You have made, to repeat, not the slightest argument for an alternative.

    Opp, except for “opposing” the deal – which will result in what?

    Please explain what this will do.

    Without rhetoric – I admit a hard task.

    Andrew Coates

    July 13, 2015 at 5:38 pm

  7. Given Syriza’s leadership will vote in different ways, your position is logically untenable.

    Even Yanis Varoufakis is now describing the deal as a “New Versailles Treaty”.
    So simply calling for “Solidarity with Syriza” is a bit like arguing “Solidarity with the Weimar Republic” was slogan to fight the rise of Nazism!

    We need more focused political arguments now.

    One alternative is to support the 24 hour general strike called by the Public Sector union federation ADEDY on Wednesday.

    But given that people are being rationed 60 Euros a day and that many employees haven’t been paid, the unions need to go much further;

    They ought to:-
    – Occupy the factories, ports and airports.
    -Organise the production and distribution of goods under workers control.
    – Utilise the social clinics and food banks to distribute food and medicine
    – stop the privatisation programme.
    – re-elect the leadership of Syriza and form a workers government that will renounce the debt if the EU doesn’t agree to re-schedule it at realistic rates.
    -pursue the return to Greece of the 100 billion euros which has fled the Greek banks since February
    – use this to re-start the economy

    Ipswich Pond Life

    July 14, 2015 at 12:07 am

  8. Strongly notice that the friend/idol of the ‘Syriza sellout!’ mob, one Mr Putin, is not rushing to Greece’s rescue …

    Funny, that.

  9. That Alex Andreou story is ace, Andrew. Spot da F on and just how I feel when I read crap about Ukraine.

  10. If this sad debacle shows one thing, it is that the EU, as presently constituted, is not so much an internationalist project as a mechanism through which one nation-state, Germany, can exercise its economic and political domination over the others. Those of you who still imagine that the EU is worth belonging to – how would you propose it should be reformed? In its current shape, the EU is dangerously dysfunctional.


    July 14, 2015 at 12:36 am

  11. Please post these suggestions to the Syriza leadership – who knows, they might follow your well-meant advice.

    Andrew Coates

    July 14, 2015 at 10:58 am

  12. Meanwhile in the drab world we live in..

    This caught my eye in a generally depressing post:

    Lessons From A Defeat In Europe Marty Hart-Landsberg.

    “Perhaps one of the most obvious lessons is that visions of a more humane Europe are not real. European leaders were more than willing to pursue the complete collapse of the Greek economy in order to break Syriza and the movement that gave it power for fear of the demonstration effect a successful Syriza might have had on broader European politics. Using the lever of a European Central Bank cut off of funding for Greek banks, the Troika pressed Syriza to the wall.”

    This bit stands out – pointing to the problems that that supporters of an exit from the Euro have not answered.

    “To be a bit more specific, a break from the Eurozone would require nationalization of the banks—an act that would immediately draw the country into a serious legal test with Europe since the banks are technically under the control of the European Central Bank. It would require the government to quickly issue new script as it prepared a new currency, and aggressively engage in an expanded public works program. At the same time it was unclear whether the new script would be accepted and whether the country would have sufficient foreign exchange to maintain minimum purchases of key import items such as food and medicine. Moreover, many businesses, holding debts denominated in euros, would likely be forced into bankruptcy necessitating government takeover. And, all this would take place in a relatively hostile international environment. No doubt some countries would offer words of solidarity, but it appears unlikely that any would or could offer meaningful financial or technical assistance. Still, with proper preparation the possibilities for success could have been greatly enhanced.”

    Now this effectively poses the problems that any real alternative economic strategy, based on leaving the Euro, faces.

    The ideas that Pondlife offers fail to deal with these – cash – issues, and can be dismissed as harmless, well meant rhetoric.

    That does not mean that the present result is to be welcomed.

    As Marty says,

    “It is hard to see this agreement as anything but failure. Clearly the main responsibility for this disaster rests with the leaders of Germany and the European Union. They showed that they had no interest in meaningful, honest negotiations, fearing that they would likely lead to a real challenge to their power. But unfortunately Syriza’s leadership did not make the best of the bad hand they were dealt. They needed to talk more truthfully to the population about the political/class nature of and reasons for the difficult challenges they faced and do the maximum possible to strengthen their negotiating position and prepare the population for the failure that they thought likely.”


    Andrew Coates

    July 14, 2015 at 12:26 pm

  13. Yep, I agree with much of this. It’s not so much that Tsipras turned his back on the socialist/democratic principles that got him elected, it is that he and Varoufakis really did not understand what kind of agenda they were up against in EU negotiations until it was too late. As someone else posted above, there is a straight choice – stick to the left and leave the eurozone or compromise on principles, toe the line and stay in the the club. The EU that most of us on the left have believed in for so many years has now been shown to be morally and politically bankrupt. The fact that an eurozone restructuring, to include fiscal transfers, has never been near the agenda in recent months shows how crucial it is to neoliberal expansion that sovereign states become economic hostages to what Varoufakis might call the ‘neoliberal Minotaur’. Although I don’t put the blame on Syriza for this debacle, it is still important though that the left across Europe vocally oppose this new Greek deal and the shameful way it has been imposed

    The Samurai Socialist

    July 15, 2015 at 9:58 am

  14. Greece: The Struggle Continues
    A definitive account of what has transpired over the last few weeks in Greece, and what’s next for Syriza and the European left.
    by Sebastian Budgen & Stathis Kouvelakis
    Ignore the typically pompous self-description.

    But this is worth reading:

    Key Points

    The government was overtaken by the referendum’s momentum.
    The ideology of left-Europeanism was crippling.
    Remaining unprepared for Grexit was deliberate.
    The government has two main camps.
    The “No” campaign was driven by class.
    After the vote, Tsipras revived a discredited opposition.
    The Left Platform plans to stay and fight to reclaim Syriza.
    Syriza’s leadership want to purge the party.
    The new agreement is the worst yet.
    It’s unknown what resistance will follow.
    Syriza’s left made some errors.
    But working within the party wasn’t a mistake.

    The key problems however are that (1) The Left Platform totally ignores the fact that a Grexit is a leap in the dark, with strong indications that it will end in economic disaster. (2) That few support it. (3) that they have no rational alternative to pro-European leftism is……what?

    Andrew Coates

    July 15, 2015 at 12:15 pm

  15. My conservative Dad cced me in on this email (presumably) doing the rounds. It is gruesome >

    Explanation of the Greek Bailout.

    It is a slow day in a little Greek Village . The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted.

    Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.

    On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the village, stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night.

    The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher.

    The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer.

    The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel.

    The guy at the Farmers’ Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the taverna.

    The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him “services” on credit.

    The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the €100 note.

    The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the rich traveller will not suspect anything.

    At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the €100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town.
    No one produced anything.
    No one earned anything.
    However, the whole village is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism.

    And that is how the bailout package works!

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