The bankers and capitalists of Europe have stamped their iron heel down on the people of Greece. Even the representatives of capital now recognise the revolutionary mood that is developing across Europe. The latest events in Greece prove above all else that there is no way out of the crisis on a capitalist basis. The only alternative to austerity is socialism.
The bankers and capitalists of Europe have stamped their iron heel down on the people of Greece. Despite the democratic decision of the Greek people to oppose the nightmare of austerity – overwhelmingly in both the January general election and the recent referendum – the dictatorship of big business has said “No!” The Greek people must endure a new Versailles Treaty, where chunks of the country will be sold off to the highest bidder. Faced with decades of penury, they are being systematically turned into a semi-colony.
The Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, was subjected to “mental waterboarding” to accept the deal. But its acceptance was seen as a betrayal of all his party had stood for and has caused a deep split.
“[The deal] is very, very bad… We have been thrown to the garbage”, said Lena Economou, who represents public sector cleaners dismissed from their jobs. Like Jesus Christ, we too are being crucified, she said.
In the four years up to 2014, 280,000 public sector jobs have been lost, reducing the number by more than 30%. Wages have been slashed, reducing the wage bill from 25bn euros to 15.8bn euros. Those on fixed-term contracts were sacked and cheaper agency workers brought in.
The European Shylock bankers had already forced the Greek banks to close. Now they, together with the rest of European big business, are attempting to squeeze blood from a stone.
The Syriza government has acquiesced to this humiliation, saying there was no alternative. But this policy of capitulation means they will play the role of executioner. This is to jump from the frying pan into the fire.
But clearly this is not the end of the matter. This fractious deal will not last and is preparing an almighty social explosion. The original Versailles Treaty of 1919, with its demand for reparations that could not be paid, was to provoke revolution in Germany. The same will happen in Greece as elsewhere.
Revolutionary moods developing
Donald Tusk, who heads the European Council and negotiated the Greek deal, is now warning of the revolutionary consequences. He warns that it is creating a revolutionary atmosphere that Europe has not seen since 1968. “I am really afraid of the ideological or political contagion, not financial contagion, of this Greek crisis,” said Tusk. He said he was concerned about the far left, which he believes is advocating “this radical leftist illusion that you can build some alternative” to the current EU economic model.
He stressed that the febrile rhetoric from far-left leaders, coupled with high youth unemployment in several countries, could be an explosive combination.
“For me, the atmosphere is a little similar to the time after 1968 in Europe,” he said.
“I can feel, maybe not a revolutionary mood, but something like widespread impatience. When impatience becomes not an individual but a social experience of feeling, this is the introduction for revolutions.”
The situation has become extremely serious and is getting worse. It confirms what the Marxists have been repeatedly saying. This call by Donald Tusk is a wake-up call to the ruling class of Europe; but it is also, more importantly, an urgent wake-up call to the working class.
As the Bible says, you cannot serve two masters. Either you wholeheartedly support the working class or you will inevitably end up supporting big business. There is no middle road.
In Britain too we are faced with austerity. Greece is simply the weak link of European capitalism. Italy, Spain and France will be next in the firing line. But we are not so far behind.
Kick out the Tories! Kick out Capitalism!
250,000 workers and youth demonstrated against austerity in London on 20th June. But what now? What are the lessons of the last five years? What are the lessons of Greece, where there is an “anti-austerity” government in power?
The Tory government, puffed up with its sham victory, is determined to balance the books on the backs of the working class, starting with the poor. It has brazenly thrown down the gauntlet. This challenge should be met head on.
The trade unions, which have millions of members, should get off their knees and organise a fightback involving mass industrial action. In the face of the wage cuts, benefit cuts and sackings, together with the Tory attacks on the right to strike and picket freely, the trade union leaders should stage a 24-hour general strike.
The failure to organise such resistance in the past has only emboldened the Tories. If ever there was a time to fight, it is now. If such leaders cannot respond, they should be replaced by those who will.
Furthermore, we need to offer a real alternative to capitalist austerity. Greece has shown that you can oppose austerity, but you cannot hope to succeed on the basis of capitalism. Like the words in the song Hotel California, you can check out but you can never leave. The crisis poses the need for immediate bold socialist measures.
The reason we are faced with decades of austerity is due to the ongoing capitalist crisis, the deepest crisis since the 1930s. As in the 1930s, the working class is being asked to pay. Capitalism can no longer afford the reforms of the past. This is nothing to do with “ideological cuts”, as some say. Austerity is being carried out everywhere, even where the left is in government. If you accept the market economy, as night follows day, you will have to obey the ruthless laws of capitalism. The idea of trying to change society one reform at a time, bit by bit, has proved a complete failure.
Support Corbyn! Fight for socialism!
Jeremy Corbyn is fighting for the Labour leadership against three Blairites on an anti-austerity programme. Labour’s right wing have completely capitulated to capitalism and are indistinguishable from the Tories. Given everyone’s deep hostility to the cuts and the Blairite agenda, Jeremy is in with a chance of winning. Tens of thousands of trade unionists have signed up to support him, as have large numbers of youth, attracted by his clear anti-austerity message and policies such as the abolition of tuition fees.
This has horrified the establishment, who want the Labour Party to be in a safe pair of hands…safe for capitalism that is. They will do everything in their power to block Corbyn and secure a victory for the right wing.
The vicious campaign against Tsipras, the Syriza government, and the NO (OXI) referendum shows the extraordinary lengths that the capitalist class and the bourgeois media will go to in order to discredit and sabotage any left-wing, anti-austerity leader or party that tries to defy the rule of Capital. The same methods will be used – and are already being used – against Corbyn.
However, if Jeremy wins, which is looking increasingly possible, it could easily provoke a split in the party, with the right wing breaking away, as they did in 1983 when they formed the SDP. Such a split could push the Labour Party to the left, a development which we would very much welcome. Of course, this remains to be seen. The victory of a Blairite, which also can’t be ruled out, would have the opposite effect of further discrediting the party.
Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity programme is certainly having a big echo. After years of retreat by the Labour leaders, this stand against the “consensus” has great importance and has broken the monopoly of right-wing domination. As Jeremy has said, the whole campaign is an opportunity to open up a national debate.
Jeremy puts forward many demands (an end to austerity; the abolition of fees, etc.) with which we wholeheartedly agree. Nevertheless, any attempt to operate within the framework of capitalism is flawed. In interviews, Jeremy has talked about the need for the “reflation” of the economy. But under present conditions, such a Keynesian policy is not going to work. We need to recognise that capitalism is in a serious crisis, from which it cannot escape.
Corbyn calls for “An economy which works for all, rejects austerity and places wealth and opportunity in the hands of the millions and not simply the millionaires.” But as the example of Greece proves, there is no alternative but austerity unless we break with capitalism.
Break with capitalism! For a socialist Europe!
The only real alternative to the anarchy of the market is a bold socialist programme, which will to do away with the dictatorship of capital and introduce a rationally-planned economy, under the control of working people. This means taking over the monopolies and banks that dominate the economy.
This is the stark choice we face. If we remain on the basis of capitalism, whether inside or outside the European Union, big business and the bankers will decide everything. They will use their dictatorial powers to destroy the democratic will of the people, as we are seeing in Greece. We have no faith in a bosses’ European Union, a monetarist straight-jacket which does not represent our interests.
We must break from capitalism if we are to control our own destinies. There is no way forward on the basis of the market, except years and decades of austerity and crisis. Everywhere you look, people are crying out for fundamental change. There is certainly a pre-revolutionary mood sweeping across Europe.
A socialist revolution in a single country would shake the entire world. The socialist transformation of Britain, where power is in the hands of the working class, would act as a massive beacon to the rest of crisis-ridden Europe.Very quickly it would transform the situation everywhere.
As opposed to the capitalist European Union, we stand for a socialist Europe, as a stepping stone to a Socialist World Federation. This is the real task that lies before us. This means building the forces of Marxism with renewed energy.