Greece: Only response to humiliating ultimatums - Repudiate debt, socialist measures, European-wide fight back

Once again, any illusions that the negotiations with its creditors could ever yield something positive for Greece have now crumbled in the light of the recent Eurogroup meeting. The unanimous ultimatum of Greece’s so-called capitalist Eurozone “partners” to the new government and the overwhelming majority of the Greek people that support the government was once more a provocation.

[Written on February 16, 2015]

It effectively tells the government that: “You have a few days to cancel the Greek election results, to tear up your government programme that was recently voted by the new Parliament, and to request for an extension of extreme austerity, thus, applying the Memorandum, alongside any additional austerity measures that it demands!”

This recent ultimatum renders abundantly clear the true class and political nature of the Eurozone and of the European Union (EU), and of capitalism itself. The extreme austerity that has been foisted on the Greek people is not some unfortunate “deviation”, but the inevitable policy for capitalism to storm the ongoing profound crisis and bankruptcy in which it finds itself. The bourgeois governments of the European North and South, with their common stance towards Greece at the Eurogroup meeting, have made quite clear not only their intention to oppose any resistance to extreme austerity on the part of a leftist government, but also that they will not tolerate any relaxation – however slight – of their policy of austerity, fearing that any instance of successful defiance could spread across Europe, destabilise European capitalism, and radicalise the workers of Europe. Therefore, given this ostensible and undeniably reactionary stance on the part of the various government representatives of European capital, there is effectively no scope for negotiations.

As we have pointed out in previous articles, the Greek government – entirely unacceptably – has resorted to a series of retreats, demonstrating its willingness to negotiate: namely, it “forgot” about the unilateral write-off of the greater part of the debt; and it “put on hold” the abolition of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, Greece’s privatisation authority set up to manage the selling off of state assets, TAIPED in Greek, suggesting that certain privatisations may be acceptable; it has left the banking system under the control of the large shareholders who have received preferential treatment of scandalous proportions; it appears to have accepted the rationale that primary budget surplus targets must be achieved before there can be any relaxation of austerity, which, effectively, means the acceptance of the logic of permanent austerity for the purposes of debt repayment; it has gone as far as to state that it supports up to 70% of the Memorandum; finally, even as early as tonight [i.e., last Friday, February 13] the Finance minister stated that he was prepared to sign an agreement that would in effect extend the Memorandum in exchange for the other side tolerating certain urgent measures necessary to deal with the “humanitarian crisis”.

The only thing that these retreats have achieved is to confuse the masses and to weaken their confidence in the new government. Not even marginally have these retreats managed to move the blackmailers that represent European capital. Rather, they lend themselves to having to make more retreats to our blackmailers. Thus, while our “partners” had, a few hours earlier, appeared to support a draft agreement that tolerated certain measures from the government’s programmatic statement, in the event, they insisted on a draft that effectively amounted to the humiliation of the Greek government, which, entirely correctly, the latter refused to even discuss.

During tonight’s (16/2/2015) press conference, the finance minister reiterated the Greek government’s willingness to negotiate an agreement, thus, suggesting that if there were to be an agreement that provides for an extension of the Memorandum whilst tolerating even a small section of the government’s programmatic statement, the Greek government would be willing to sign it. Such an outcome would not only contradict the government’s commitments to the electorate and the popular sentiment, as expressed in recent days by the Greek people who took to the squares to shout “Not a single step backwards!”, but it would also be groundless! As has become patently clear, our “partners” are satisfied with nothing less than the total capitulation of the Greek government, SYRIZA, and of the Greek people.

The next few hours and days are likely to be stormy. This Wednesday [today], the European Central Bank (ECB) will be called upon to decide on whether Greek banks should be afforded further “liquidity”. It seems highly unlikely that the ECB would continue providing “liquidity” to the Greek banking system without the Greek government’s commitment to the existing austerity programme. In that respect, a Greek expulsion from the Eurozone appears on the horizon not as a bluff but as a real prospect that may be forced on Greece over the coming weeks, effectively as punishment for electing a leftist government. However, should the government remain steadfast, as it should, European capitalists would have few qualms to resort to a “Grexit” as a means of disciplining the workers and masses of other parts of Europe against any resistance to the political choices of European capital.

At times like these, the Greek bourgeoisie’s nervousness at the prospect of a definitive showdown between the government and our “partners” is palpable. There is every reason for the Greek bourgeoisie to be anxious about a Greek exit from the Eurozone. Its international position would abruptly become downgraded, and its internal grip on power would certainly receive a shock from the social implications of a return to a national currency. Conversely, the idea of returning to a national currency no longer worries the Greek workers and, generally, the Greek masses who have seen a dramatic drop in their living standards due to the crisis and extreme austerity measures, so long as the government and SYRIZA, that claim to want to genuinely represent their interests from a position of power, apply the appropriate programme aimed at defending their quality of life.

We Communists of SYRIZA believe that such a programme must be solidly founded on the following fundamental grounds:

  • The immediate repudiation of the debt! This is indispensable to deny our creditors any grounds for their blackmailing and bullying tactics and for their hegemony over our country.
  • Socialist measures in order to save the Greek people from impoverishment and unemployment. The nationalisation of the banking system and of all large businesses in the country, under workers’ democratic control and management. For a centrally and democratically planned economy that addresses social needs.
  • An appeal to the workers of Europe for international solidarity towards Greece, and for specific political initiatives for the development of a united front of struggle against austerity and capitalism across the continent! For a United Socialist States of Europe!