[P2P-F] blockupy analysis of greece

Michel Bauwens michel at p2pfoundation.net
Tue Jul 14 17:43:39 CEST 2015


first published Sunday, July 12th, at
Niederlage verstehen heisst den Sieg vorbereiten”

   - Understanding the Defeat Means Preparing a Victory

   - 14 Jul 15 Posted under: Grèce

   *The Greek Dilemma and Us. Nine provisional considerations after both
   the popular Oxi and Syriza’s Yes to the Memorandum. This is being written
   after the vote in the Greek parliament and before the final decision of the
   Eurogroup. At the moment, everything is open, and we are certain of only a
   couple of things. Almost everything can change, but some things will remain

   1. From Blackmail to Coup

   *The alternative of Grexit or a third Memorandum is not the same as
   reform or revolution; it is only a matter of the lack of alternatives
   dictated by the creditors. It corresponds to the relation of forces within
   Europe, which can at the moment only produce defeats.*

   The blackmailing of Greece by the creditors leaves open two paths, both
   of which would be defeats. This is unavoidable. First, Grexit: It means:
   ‘We’ll take from you the possibility of carrying out Europe’s class
   conflict within European political space. If you want to keep fighting,
   then fight for your survival at home and let the world watch the
   hopelessness of your struggle. If you want to keep on fighting in the name
   of your population, then your population is going to suffer the
   consequences.’ A Grexit makes the problem of inner-European politics into
   one of developmental and humanitarian aid. It isolates the political
   conflict in Europe, limiting it to Greek territory. Second, a new
   Memorandum: This means staying with the EU structures as they are, although
   at the cost of complete subjugation and now, in addition, the political
   oversight that is being insisted on. The Eurogroup’s and IMF’s programme
   amounts not only to an administration of debt and insolvency but also the
   attempt at nation building from outside – trusteeship as a shadow
   government. Its goal is a new Greek body politic in the
   economic-technocratic sense: deregulation, privatization, capitalism with
   ‘Asiatic values’ (Žižek).

   2. Political submission as strategy

   *Apparently, the SYRIZA government has decided, on strategic grounds, to
   end the policy of negotiations with a symbolic defeat in order to ‘pacify’
   the fiscal and economic situation**. **It changes nothing in terms of
   social devastation.*

   The events of recent days catapulted SYRIZA into a new decision-making
   arena in a completely contradictory situation: The emphatic liberatory act
   of the popular ‘No’ (Oxi) occurred simultaneously with the intensified
   vulnerability to fiscal blackmail of the state (bank closures, state
   bankruptcy). Complete collapse would occur in a matter of days. Money was
   running out. In the last days, the preliminary outer limits of this
   institutional national uprising against the European ‘institutions’ were
   reached. The negotiations were at an end, and the economic war against the
   Greek government reached its preliminary high point. Tsipras hoped a new
   aid package would ease the dramatic situation. And there are not a few that
   are hoping now for time to prepare a Grexit for real.

   It is questionable whether this strategy can work. SYRIZA hoped a
   Memorandum would give it breathing space and the possibility of preparing a
   new political offensive. The creditors, therefore, have set themselves the
   goal of moving from fiscal blackmail to direct political control – in the
   event it cannot manage, despite all, to bring down the SYRIZA government.
   They are formulating not only the contractual framework of Greek politics
   but now want to tie the next disbursements to the government’s political
   obedience and oversee it permanently. They will try to prevent Greece
   getting even an atom of manoeuvring space for a new offensive. From now on
   Brussels is no longer interested merely in economic subjugation under a
   third Memorandum; the creditors are forcing Tsipras to prove his
   ‘credibility’ by doing everything they ask of him: to stand up to the
   population, to the ‘dissenters’, to the party. This is blackmail whose
   conditions are now the public-image destruction of political unity. It
   leaves no room for strategic retreat, no possible future offensive. The
   submission achieved so far can and must be criticised. However, those who
   see this as a break with a political project and the death of reformism
   should hold their fire. Because what is now in the air – the Eurogroup’s
   ‘No’ to the current level of Greece’s submission – will not only decide
   SYRIZA’s future but also the future configuration of Europe. Whether there
   is Grexit or a Memorandum, on Monday we will all know that there is most
   probably no possibility of even the slightest improvement of Greece’s
   situation if this is done in concert with the creditors. And since the
   referendum a break has become an option for society. Starting Monday there
   will be a new political process in Greece, which will put the left and the
   party to the test.

   3. Government and collective process

   *The government is taking on an identity distinct from the party and the
   movement. The negotiation process hampers the democratic process and
   concentrates power in the hands of a few, whom people have to trust. It is
   precisely the popular aspect of the referendum that has paradoxically
   reinforced this concentration: The masses of young and poor people, who are
   not activists and not organised, have tied themselves directly to the
   government and to Alexis Tsipras as a person.*

   Through its campaign in the urban peripheries and poor neighbourhoods,
   SYRIZA reached all those who yearned for ‘life with dignity’; but the
   population did not want this to occur in the form of a permanent general
   assembly of the people, which required them to make permanent decisions
   affecting precisely the one person whom they consciously empowered for this
   purpose through their ‘No’: Alexis Tsipras. They not only said ‘No’ but
   also placed their trust in Tsipras so that he could end their suffering.
   This reinforced his possibilities of acting unilaterally.

   At the same time, this highlighted a vacuum in the movement of the
   streets. The democracy of the squares consciously rejected centralist
   politics and, in so doing, the figure of a charismatic leadership. How do
   movements speak to those who are not a movement and don’t want to be one?
   How do we deal with the possible difference between the plebiscite of the
   assemblies and the supposed common will of all? The societal factor of the
   non-represented and the ‘invisible’ does not necessarily seek happiness
   through grassroots movements and engaged self-organisation. How do
   movements act if real majorities are not only possible under conditions of
   contemporary post-representation but are also decisive? The SYRIZA
   experiment has freshly put the open question of societal and popular
   collectivism on the table. And that’s a good thing!

   4. First get food, then go for the big challenge

   *The biggest problem with the major submission to the European status
   quo is not the betrayal of a decrepit concept of revolution espoused by the
   KKE or other radical ‘revolutionaries’. The biggest problem is that Greece
   and its poorest citizens find themselves in a situation of immediate
   urgency. The social catastrophe cannot be resolved with a five-year plan.*

   In this sense, in the coming months, what will show us whether SYRIZA
   has really capitulated is the policies of the government, not a piece of
   paper. In this process, the required measures can also take place in a
   legal grey area, or they can produce the next public arena of struggle.
   What’s important is that this arena is defined and opened up. ‘Absurd’,
   ‘capitulation’, ‘traders in hope’ – all those who are now basing their own
   radicalism on SYRIZA’s ‘failure’ should think hard about what they would
   have done if it were up them. Almost all ‘radical leftists’ within SYRIZA
   have approved this Memorandum, precisely because they are against it. For
   the moment it appears to be the only option for keeping the other options
   open. It was a strategic mistake to not have contemplated other options
   earlier on. But in order to be able to take the leap into the unknown – a
   controlled Grexit and the options of nationalising production and the banks
   – it is not only time and real majorities that are needed but also
   ‘breathing space’ right now. SYRIZA was not prepared for this step. Nobody

   5. Grexit as the solution?

   *The discussion of Grexit in the German left is romantic. In great part
   it adheres to an old party-communist political conception: A process of
   rupture is not to occur socially, as social transformation and political
   movement; rather, it is to be enacted through a decree and according to a
   technical discussion of social models undertaken by the government. What is
   more, the demand is irresponsible because – and this is what is most
   important – it does not correspond to the actual political process.*

   With their ‘No’, people voted not for exit but to reject the ‘liberal’
   politics of fear; in their readiness for battle they went a good distance
   in the direction of a real break, but they did not formulate the momentum
   of a revolutionary wish – whether or not we would have wanted them to. A
   Grexit at this moment would also be irresponsible because it has not been
   prepared – either by SYRIZA as a government or a party, or by municipal and
   local social councils, not to mention by assemblies and movements. And so
   questions of further strategy and the next steps are on the table. But for
   now we have to understand that a break with Europe’s fiscal regime would
   aggravate the social disaster, and the plebiscitary moment of the ‘Oxi’
   vote would be transformed into a guided democracy and then into the
   authoritarianism of a left government, which would govern the social
   catastrophe in an increasingly authoritarian way and would have to
   reorganise the state and economy against the social majority. Those who
   argue for a revolutionary Grexit are doing so at a comfortable distance and
   are, in the last analysis, ignoring those who have fought, starved,
   suffered, and hoped in the last six years. All of these people deserve time
   to breathe. They, and not SYRIZA’s Central Committee or a distant
   revolutionary romanticism, need to decide on the right point in time.

   6. Necessary failure?

   *Whatever the ideologies and false conceptions of the possibility of
   reforms might have been at work in SYRIZA, its line in the last months
   corresponded to the tendency of the will of the majority. The hope for a
   solution within the framework of the European treaties has been the point
   of departure of SYRIZA’s political strategy. In acting on this basis it has
   managed to radicalise society.*

   The government has the people behind it and has absorbed this wish and,
   together with the public throughout Europe, learned from experience that
   this wish is just as unrealistic as the neoliberal order is obdurate. If
   they had chosen to make this insight possessed by a revolutionary minority
   into the point of departure of their politics they would have failed
   spectacularly. The last months have made it possible for the whole world to
   experience the real concrete existence of this antagonism, to see it, to
   feel it. SYRIZA has not stoked reformist desires but destroyed them in a
   series of practical object-lessons – whether they wanted to or not. In so
   doing, the real possibility of a break, about which people throughout the
   whole of society are now talking seriously for the first time, has become
   an option. Nobody could have presupposed the experience that has by now
   been gained without alienating the population and the party. SYRIZA did not
   take its own truths as a point of departure; instead it looked to the level
   of consciousness of the population and radicalised it. In this sense, they
   initiated a revolutionary process – something that those who always knew
   better and what was coming are not in a position to do. The question now is
   whether the government will be in sync with this process.

   7. Movement and government

   *After almost six months SYRIZA has come up against the limits of being
   a protest government. Now the party has to actually take ‘governmental
   responsibility’. It cannot fall back on programmatic positions but has to
   face the real dilemma for which there is no pragmatic solution. This also
   necessarily entails political alienation of the movements from the

   But this is a good and far from being a bad thing. Movements, in the
   best sense of the concept, also act for themselves; they have to do so in
   their immediate struggles and radical demands, which do not always
   incorporate social majorities – for example, solidarity with refugees in
   Greece, the struggle against special prisons, police violence, the fascist
   danger, and against ruinous extractivism (gold mining). Left parties that
   do not enter government based solely on their own strength, but also
   because the political caste of an austerity regime has imploded, should try
   to develop left politics for majorities, and they need to concretely
   improve the daily conditions of life of many people. Especially under
   conditions of the nightmarish impoverishment and plunge into the void
   caused by the Troika’s two Memoranda.

   In its feverish week of permanent mobilisation, the ‘Oxi’ campaign, too,
   lived not from a central leadership but from the free self-empowerment of
   innumerable activists who created, multiplied, and consequently also
   socialised their own Oxi via social media and in the streets.

   Can this kind of mobilisation still be called upon? It probably can. The
   disillusion is palpable. Does it have to stay that way? Does the
   tremendously arid game of parliamentary reformism versus radical movements
   that want more have to start again? Maybe, but there is something else. The
   relationship between broad parts of the movement and the government still
   exists; it has been humiliated but not broken. What will be decisive is how
   SYRIZA not only explains its decision in this situation but makes it into a
   point of departure for further mobilisation. Only at this point could a
   possible capitulation be spelled out. However, what is also decisive is
   whether the movements continue to exert pressure on their government;
   whether they are actually in a position not only to think through the
   question of socialising the break with the existing fiscal regime, embodied
   in part by the euro, but also to organise around it as a social process
   involving many people. We have no specific advice on how to do this and are
   consciously refraining from giving any. However, two things seem equally
   clear to us: it is possible under present conditions to govern
   unpragmatically, and, at the same time, the movements must not subordinate
   themselves or be subordinate to the logic of governing.

   8. A reorganising of the political

   *Whatever happens, the referendum has re-measured political space not
   only in Greece but also in Europe. **In almost every conceivable way, it
   has politicised the crisis and European governance. The technocratic veils
   are falling away and the brute force of politics is becoming apparent.
   Their natural laws determine the laws of their policies, but their laws can
   be called into question. ‘There is no alternative’ is now being confronted
   by social democracy.*

   The parties of the old ‘left’, whether in France, Spain, Italy, England
   – or especially Germany (the SPD) – are by now nothing more than ‘managers
   of global capitalism’ (Badiou). Their ‘Yes’ against SYRIZA and the Greek
   population extinguished from their memory the last vestiges of Keynesianism
   and the last elements of social-democratic solidarity. They marshalled all
   means at their disposal to repel the first powerful counter-offensive to
   neoliberalism and its austerity. It was a declaration of war against the
   new and any attempt to burst the bounds of the current order. Many were
   able to understand this, and many found were outraged at openly democratic
   self-empowerment was subjected to intimidation and manipulation through
   ‘fiscal structural reform’. Europe is no longer what it was. It is now only
   a question of time before the demand for a European referendum on TTIP will
   come into focus and before other excluded groups demand their rights. For
   decades now, the crisis of representation has only seen a right-wing
   response: Hungary, Le Pen, Denmark, Pegida. Now it has a left response,
   which can no longer disappear in the medium term, whatever concrete form it
   takes. It positioned itself as a political force way before the 34 per cent
   of the January election. And even in the parliamentary systems there is –
   at least in the long run the possibility of rebellious actions. OXI remains
   the central political antagonism of the years to come and is at the same
   time ten years ahead of the rest of the movements in Europe.

   9. The empire is being destroyed from inside, not from outside.

   *Those who say that the European empire cannot be reformed should not
   conclude that one should leave it. Of course, there is nothing to be
   expected from Merkel. She is a real warrior for her class. But it is just
   as self-evident that one has to be and stay precisely where the enemy is,
   where one’s own enmity can be brought to bear.*

   Ultimately, we fight in the factory and in the city neighbourhood and
   not in a place where the relations of domination are absent. In any case,
   there is and will be no such place, even in Greece after a Grexit. Whether
   inside or outside the euro and the EU, the European reality forms the
   objective boundaries of the Greek breakthrough. This is where the
   responsibility of the European movements begins, especially in Germany.
   Crossing borders is now in our hands. This involves all social movements
   and political struggles for a Europe of rights for all and true democracy.
   It involves anchors of transnational protest like Blockupy, as well as
   other cross-border connections of the radical left. And, of course, it
   involves the Party of the European Left around Die LINKE. Everyone has to
   change something; everyone has to reassess their policies and ask: How can
   we internationalise the Greek cause and Europeanise the OXI vote? Together,
   separately, united, in each place, in each form. We have to modernise our
   practice – within this constellation.

   And one more thing: SYRIZA doesn’t need a fan club. We should appreciate
   the great value of a left government, without being ‘faithful to Moscow’.
   ‘Unfortunately, small steps forward still require big sacrifices’, is what
   a Diktio comrade texted us from deep inside the government during the
   Friday in which the momentous decision was made. Yes, it’s a lot of
   rubbish. Just carry on.  What else?

   *Blockupy goes Athens, 12 July2015 (12.00, Berlin)*

   *PS:* As a team we are now ending our report and going back into action.
   Whatever happens from now on we have already been changed by the recent
   events. In Athens we fought to the point of exhaustion along with others,
   but also spoke with far-sighted comrades and courageous common people who
   told us the reasons for their OXI. We saw how much we desired more Greek
   friendship against Germany’s order. It was exciting and historic, and we
   learned a lot.

   *PPS:*  All our basic assessments still stand up, though many things
   could turn out differently in the next hours and days. ‘There is no
   alternative’ is supposed to win – shock and awe, nothing is to survive. If
   the enormous level of submission is insufficient then Greek society will
   have to risk the great leap into the unknown. Either they remain in a
   repeatedly produced void or they are to go under. Then for the moment
   something will again have occurred. But that will be decided not by the
   government alone; then all the stakes will really be in the streets.

   This text first appeared in German in the blog ‘Blockupy goes Athens

   Translation by Eric Canepa

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