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The real battle is only just beginning. Riot police in Syntagma late in the night after large demonstration of 'Indignados', in Syntagma Square, Athens, Greece, 29th June 2011. Photo: Ggia via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).
The real battle is only just beginning. Riot police in Syntagma late in the night after large demonstration of 'Indignados', in Syntagma Square, Athens, Greece, 29th June 2011. Photo: Ggia via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).
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Greece - the real fight is only just beginning

Oliver Tickell

14th July 2015

Supporters of Greece's fight for sovereignty are unanimous in blaming the evil troika for its humiliating defeat, writes Oliver Tickell. But the real fault is with Syriza for their needless, shameful surrender. Now, as the real battle begins, we must hold firm with the Greek people against neoliberal occupation.

They had no plan. They had no backbone. They had no backstop. They had no muscle. The only 'or else' they put up to the troika was to make the Greek economy hold its breath until ... until it bust. Which it has now done.

It's easy to blame the aggressors of the troika - and a proper assemblage of gargoyles they are at that.

They have cruelly inflicted on Greece a humilating climbdown, forcing it to accept a deal much worse that that rejected in the decisive OXI vote in last week's referendum.

They have represented the brute power of finance capital against people and democracy. They have forced Greece into becoming a vassal state utterly subservient to their power.

In short, it's easy to hate them. But in fact, all they have been doing is their job. There has been no secret agenda. They have surprised no one. They have done nothing they have not done before, in Ireland, Portugal, Spain.

If you really want to hate anyone, hate Alexis Tsipras. Hate Yanis Varoufakis. Hate those who have promised everything, and delivered not just nothing, but worse than nothing. Hate the entire Syriza Government, which has destroyed the Greek economy and handed it over to finance capital on a plate.

Hate Syriza, which not only betrayed the promise on which it was elected, but held a totally unnecessary referendum whose outcome it has betrayed completely within days, accepting a deal that adds up to nothing less than treachery against the Greek people.

Where did it all go wrong?

The answer to that is simple. They had no plan. They had no backbone. They had no backstop. They had no muscle. The only 'or else' they put up to the troika was to make the Greek economy hold its breath until ... until it bust. Which it has now done.

Had their intention been to force Greece into poverty and foreign economic and political subjugation they could not have done a better job of it. Was it even their intention all along? Were they traitors from the start, on a mission to lead their country into ruin and a new era of abject servility? It's hard to believe - but the effect has been exactly the same as if they were.

At least when the World War I hero Maréchal Pétain formed  the Nazi puppet state of Vichy France in 1940, he had some kind of excuse: to avoid the certainty of a military occupation. But Syriza has none.

At any point since its election the Greek Government could have acted, preparing its gound for the showdown to come. First it could have imposed capital controls, much earlier than it was forced to, to stop its Euro and other foreign currency holdings from flowing away to safe havens abroad.

Second, it could have been printing up secret (or perhaps better still, not-so-secret) stocks of drachma banknotes months ago - against the possibility that it would have to bring them out at short notice.

Third, when the banks were running out of money, it could have have introduced the drachma as a parallel currency to prevent the banks' insolvency and the consequent economic freeze-up  that has run the economy from basket case into collapse - and made it legal tender.

Fourth, it could have declared the illegitimacy of most of its debt and its refusal to repay - while seriously pressing its own claim for €320 billion in reparations from Germany for the loans it was forced to make to the Reichsbank under Nazi occupation.

But Syriza did none of these things. When the troika called Greece's bluff, its hand was empty. All Tsipas had to say was 'pretty please' - at which the thugs of international finance capital laughed in his face.

What now?

Greece now has to pass emergency legislation that will have the effect of packing up Greece - its economy, its people, its sovereignty, its future as an independent state - into a gift-wrapped parcel, and handing it over to its creditors.

Will it succeed? Perhaps. Tsipras will surely have the support of the opposition, if not of Syriza's elected representatives, many of whom will vote against. If the laws are passed, will the deal stick? Surely not. The 61% of Greeks who voted NO meant what they said. They voted NO not just to secure better terms from the troika, but fully prepared to ditch out of the Euro if those better terms were not won.

Any laws passed in the Greek Parliament to comply with the troika's final ultimatum will lack the slightest shred of democratic legitimacy following the NO vote - remembering the key legal precept that political power derives its legitimacy only from the will of the People.

If the laws are passed, Greece will enter into a period of revolutionary fury and political turmoil that is bound, one way or another, to end in the collapse of the Government, the deposition of Tsipras, and a future of profound uncertainty and insecurity.

Remember that Greece has a long history of fighting for its sovereignty - and of resisting betrayal by those in whom it has put its faith. Its communist partisans bravely fought out the Nazis in World War II, only to be betrayed by their former allies, Britain and the US, who rounded up and murdered the war heroes and installed a government of former Nazi collaborators to see off the 'Soviet threat'.

The political battle continued until 1967 when the military junta known as the Regime of the Colonels seized power, carrying out a ferocious crackdown on its opponents characterised by severe violations of human and political rights, with widespread torture and arbitrary imprisonment. The junta was finally forced out in 1974 by a popular revolution which culminated in Greece's re-establishment as a democratic Republic.

Greek democrats today must be ready for a comparable fight against the new neoliberal occupation, with Germany once again at its helm, to which Tsipras has offered up his country against the clearly expressed popular will.

This will be a defining battle for national sovereignty, democracy and human dignity in Greece, and indeed all of Europe - and one that progressives forces everywhere must do all they can to support. OXI!

 


 

Global protest on 15th July: '#THISISACOUP-protest: OXI means OXI, NO to financial blackmail, solidarity with the Greek people!' - meet in city and town squares everywhere - over 50 actions.

Oliver Tickell edits The Ecologist.

 

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