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Greece

Contemporary crisis and workers control

 

 

This chapter is taken from An Alternative Labour History: Worker Control and Workplace Democracy, edited by Dario Azzellini and published by Zed Books. For more of Azzellini’s writings visit his website

 

By Dario Azzellini

 

July 31, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- During the first decade of the current century factory occupations and production under workers’ control seemed to be limited mainly to South America, with a few exceptions in Asia. It was beyond the imagination of most workers and scholars in industrialized countries that workers would or could occupy their companies and run them on their own. Nevertheless, the crisis that started in 2008 put workers’ control back on the agenda in the northern hemisphere. Occupations of workplaces and production under control of workers sprang up in the United States, Western Europe and Egypt. This chapter describes some of these struggles and their common characteristics and differences.

Greece: vulture creditors jostling for their next feed

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

May 5, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, an earlier and shorter version of this article first appeared in Green Left Weekly — It has taken only nine months for relations between the near-bankrupt Greek state and its creditors — the “Quartet” of the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Stability Mechanism (ESM) — to lurch to the brink of crisis.

 

These relations are covered by the third bailout memorandum between Greece and the European Commission, which the SYRIZA-led government of prime minister Alexis Tsipras felt forced to swallow last July 12, despite the Greek people rejecting an earlier version by over 60% in the July 5, 2015 referendum. The memorandum commits the ESM to provide the country with €86 billion in exchange for a tightly policed Greek government continuing to implement a package of “reforms” requiring pension cuts, tax increases, privatisations and labour market deregulation.

 

On Greece, Syriza, Podemos and the Democracy in Europe Movement – Yanis Varoufakis interview in El Mundo

Ex-finance minister of Greece Yanis Varoufakis

January 23, 2016 -- thoughts for the post-2008 world -- Why did you resign the very next day after the ‘no’ victory in the Greek referendum?

Yanis Varoufakis - Because the Prime Minister told me, on the night of that magnificent result, that it was time to surrender to the troika. Not what I had entered politics for and certainly not what the mandate that the 62% NO vote we had just received stipulated.

Did the European leaders press Tsipras to get rid from you? Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of the Eurogroup of finances ministers, has admitted that he did so…

They knew that I would never sign up to a new non-viable, toxic loan agreement. That was clear from the beginning. I was elected to negotiate a viable agreement. And since it is the finance minister who signs these agreements on behalf of the state, it was essential to the troika that I should be removed.

Why do you think you are so uncomfortable (and considered even dangerous) for the EU leaders?

Because I was an obstacle to the maintenance of their permanent denial regarding their failed fiscal reform programs.

What has been your major mistake during the time you were Greece Finance Minister?

Rekindling Hope: SYRIZA's Challenges and Prospects

 

Greek farmers protesting against planned pension system reforms.

 

By Michalis Spourdalakis

 

January 27, 2016 -- Socialist Project -- Before turning to the main theme of this article it would be very useful to come to terms with at least the following preliminary observations:

 

The left in government and especially the radical left in government has never been the subject of easy discussion among leftists. As the project of social transformation was never a peaceful stroll in the park, the debates on the question of in and/or out of government, let alone those about political power, have been very heated. In fact, it is hardly an exaggeration to say that these debates are as old as the left itself. Before, during, and after coming into office, leftist theorists and practitioners have been involved in fierce discussions and heated arguments, often leading to organizational splits and fragmentation. The intense polemical nature of these debates has very rarely led to useful, positive, and practical conclusions for the left.

 

Plan B for Europe - Appeal to build a European area of work in order to end austerity and build a true democracy.

 

By Susan George, Yanis Varoufakis, Ada Colau, Zoe Konstantopoulou, Ken Loach, Noam Chomsky, et. al

 

January 19, 2016 - Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Plan B Europa - In July 2015, we witnessed a financial coup d’état carried out by the European Union and its institutions against the Greek Government, condemning the Greek population to continue suffering the austerity policies that had been rejected on two occasions in the polls. This coup has intensified the debate over the power of the EU, and by extension it’s institutions, its incompatibility with democracy, and its role as guarantor of the basic human rights demanded by European citizens.

 

We know that there are alternatives to austerity. Manifestos such as “For a Plan B in Europe“, “Austerexit” or DiEM25 (Democracy in Europe Movement 2025) denounce the blackmail of the third memorandum of understanding imposed against Greece, the catastrophe that it would cause and the antidemocratic nature of the EU. The President of the European Commission no less, Jean -Claude Juncker, said : ” There can be no democratic decision against European treaties “.

 

Greece: SYRIZA's scores clear win amid high abstention, more austerity

 

 Read more on Greece.

By Dick Nichols

SYRIZA pulled off a remarkable victory at the September 20 Greek election. Although burdened  by its acceptance of the draconian third memorandum of Greece's creditors and eight months of rule in the midst of recession, closed banks and capital controls, SYRIZA's vote fell by only 0.88% and its parliamentary seats by just four.

On September 20 SYRIZA won 35,46% and 145 seats: at the January 25 election it won 36.34% and 149 seats. Its lead over the main opposition party, the conservative New Democracy, fell by only 1.17%, from 8.53% in January to 7.36% today.

While the ND vote increased marginally, from 27.81% to 28.1%, it actually lost a seat, passing from 76 to 75.

In January, SYRIZA was the leading party in 42 of Greece's 56 constituencies, and ND in 14: after this election the numbers are exactly the same, with SYRIZA overtaking ND as leading party in three regional constituencies, while ND replaced SYRIZA as leading party in another three.

Oskar Lafontaine: Let’s develop a Plan B for Europe!

 Oskar Lafontaine

By Oskar Lafontaine (pictured)

Many in Europe had put great hopes in the election of Alexis Tsipras as Greek Prime Minister. When, after long and exhausting negotiations, the Syriza leader signed the European diktat, the disappointment was great.

It would be unjust and presumptuous to want to give moral lessons to Alexis Tsipras and Syriza. After these experiences for the European left, it would be better to reflect on the conditions in which a democratic and social politics (and thus a left politics) is possible in Europe. We have learned one thing: while the European Central Bank, which claims to be independent and apolitical, can turn off the financial tap to a left government, a politics that is oriented towards democratic and social principles is impossible.

Yanis Varoufakis: 'Our Athens Spring'

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – This speech was delivered on August 23, 2015, by former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, at the Festival of the Rose, at Frangy-en-Bresse, in the French department of Saône-et-Loire. The festival is organised by the local organisation of the French Socialist Party, which is associated with former French industry minister Arnaud Montebourg. Montebourg was sacked from this post in August 2014 by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

* * *

Let me tell you why I am here with words I have borrowed from a famous old manifesto. I am here because:

A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of democracy. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: The state-sponsored bankers and the Eurogroup, the Troika and Dr Schäuble, Spain’s heirs of Franco’s political legacy and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) of Germany's Berlin leadership, Baltic governments that subjected their populations to terrible, unnecessary recession and Greece’s resurgent oligarchy.

Grecia, ruptura en Syriza: ¡Nace 'Unidad Popular'!

Panagiotis Lafazanis.

[English at http://links.org.au/node/4560.]

Por Stathis Kouvelakis, Athens

21 de agosto de 2015 -- Viento Sur -- Esta mañana, a primera hora, 25 diputados de Syriza abandonaron el grupo parlamentario del partido para crear una nueva formación bajo el nombre de "Unidad Popular". La mayor parte de estos diputados están afiliados a la Plataforma de Izquierdas, pero se han unido también otros como Vangelis Diamantopoulos o Rachel Makri, una estrecha colaboradora de Zoe Konstantopoulou.

Este es un acontecimiento importante en la política griega, pero también para la izquierda radical en Grecia y a escala internacional.

Se deben subrayar tres elementos:

El primero es que "Unidad Popular" es el nombre de un nuevo frente político que reagrupará a trece organizaciones de la izquierda radical, aquellas que firmaron el texto publicado el 13 de agosto a favor de la constitución de un "Frente por el NO". Este frente es por lo tanto el primer resultado tangible de la recomposición de la izquierda radical de Grecia. Una recomposición que extrae todas las lecciones de los últimos cinco años y, por supuesto, de la experiencia de Syriza en el poder y de la catástrofe en la que ha desembocado.

Greece: New radical left front to challenge SYRIZA in snap election

Panagiotis Lafazanis.

By Stathis Kouvelakis, Athens

August 21, 2015 -- First appeared on Kouvelakis' Facebook page, reposted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Early this morning, 25 SYRIZA MPs left the parliamentary group of the party to create a new group, under the name of “Popular Unity” (Laiki Enotita in Greek). Most of these MPs are affiliated to the Left Platform, but some others also joined like Vangelis Diamantopoulos or Rachel Makri, a close collaborator of Zoe Kostantopoulou.

[The new party will stand in the snap September 20 general election announced by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on August 20.]

This is a major development in Greek politics but also for the radical left, in Greece and at an international level.

Three elements need to be emphasised.

Greece: SYRIZA 2.0? Split looms as third memorandum passes

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

August 21, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- By any normal logic Greece’s SYRIZA-led government should be sinking in the opinion polls. On July 12, at the Brussels summit of Eurozone leaders, it agreed to implement a set of draconian preconditions for obtaining a third €86 billion bail-out—effectively reversing the opposition to austerity on which it had been elected on January 25.

Legislation enabling the implementation of the memorandum, covering 35 “prior actions” required of the government, was adopted by the Greek parliament on August 14, with 64 MPs voting against. Of SYRIZA’s 149 MPs, 32 voted no to the deal—including Left Platform leader Panagiotis Lafazanis, parliament speaker Zoe Constantopoulou and former finance minister YanisVaroufakis—and 11 abstained, with one MP absent.

Lessons from Greece: Leo Panitch and Richard Fidler debate SYRIZA

August 13, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, also posted at LeftStreamed -- In this video of a debate, Leo Panitch and Richard Fidler discuss alternate views on recent developments in the fight against austerity waged by SYRIZA and the Greek people.

Moderated by Susan Spronk, associate professor in the School of International Development and Global Studies at the University of Ottawa.

Panitch is Canada research chair in comparative political economy at York University, Toronto. Fidler is life-long socialist, activist and writer who blogs at http://lifeonleft.blogspot.ca/

Nicos Poulantzas: State, class and the transition to socialism

Click for more on Nicos Poulantzas and more by Doug Enaa Greene.

By Doug Enaa Greene

August 5, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- We live in an era where too much of the left, both in the USA and abroad, remains stuck to old orthodoxies and failed strategies. Marxism is reduced to holy writ and rote, devoid of any ability to either interpret or change the world.

In order to win, the left desperately needs to break away from past habits and recover the ability to raise questions anew by using Marxist methodology to formulate strategy. In this endeavour, there are a number of thinkers we can profitably learn from; one of whom is Nicos Poulantzas. Despite the limitations and contradictions within Poulantzas' methods, he was not afraid to ask the right questions and to develop new strategies.

To that end, it is worth looking at Poulantzas' work in three areas: the state, class and the transition to socialism.

I. Biography

Alexis Tsipras: 'Austerity is a dead end ... the struggle continues'

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal  hopes to contribute to the left debate on Greece by providing background information, thoughtful comment and presenting positions of various left organisations.

Alexis Tsipras interviewed by Kostas Arvanitis (STO kokkino radio), published in French in L’Humanité, July 31, 2015; translated by Eric Canepa (unauthorised version)

Video: Struggle and suffering: The 1946-49 Greek Civil War

For more by Doug Enaa Greene, click HERE.

August 2, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Greek Civil War was one of the major events shaping modern Greek history. The Greek Civil War from 1946-49 was fought between the Communist Party and the monarchy aided by the United States. The Civil War was one of the first major clashes of the Cold War. Communist historian Doug Enaa Greene lectured and led a discussion on the roots and course of the war for the Center for Marxist Education.

To read a transcript of the talk, see http://links.org.au/node/4514. To learn more about the Center for Marxist Education, see https://www.facebook.com/CenterForMarxistEducation

Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch: SYRIZA's dilemma

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras during a swearing-in ceremony this month. Alkis Konstantinidis / Reuters

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras during a swearing-in ceremony this month. Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters.

[The Greece-EU “agreement” has set off debates on the left on why the SYRIZA government "agreed" to such harsh terms and what are the next steps for the left in Greece, and across Europe. Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal hopes to contribute to this by providing essential background information, thoughtful comment and presenting the positions of various left organisations.]

By Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch

Greece: SYRIZA central committee member John Milios on how to end austerity

A man receiving food from a solidarity network in Attica, Greece. Greece Reporter

A man receiving food from a solidarity network in Attica, Greece. Photo Greece Reporter.

July 21, 2015 -- Jacobin, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission with permission -- Greece continues to be in flux. On July 5, the Greek people went to the polls and voted over 60% against austerity. One week later, the Greek government agreed to a new memorandum in principle after an all-night negotiation that was described at times as “mental water-boarding”. Finally,on July 15, the first pieces of enabling legislation were passed by the Greek parliament with a large rebellion of SYRIZA members of parliament voting against the laws.

Knife at its throat, Greece yields to Troika brutality

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

July 22, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In a summing-up speech to the Greek parliament in the earlier hours of July 16, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said of the punitive July 12 funding deal accepted by Greece after negotiations with Eurozone leaders:

I would like to put this question very honestly to each and every one of you who is going to vote today: "The blackmail [of the Eurozone institutions] that you mentioned—was it real or fictional?"

If you think it was fictional, then I am open to hearing different alternatives, and together we can work on them.

Feminist economists reject EU conditions on Greece

Resolution signed by more than 135 delegates at the 24th Annual Conference of International Association for Feminist Economics as a personal expression of concern.

July 23, 2015 -- Kafila, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- We are shocked that the European Union institutions and European leaders are imposing on the people of Greece a further program of austerity that will severely undermine the living conditions of women and men and plunge them into a deep crisis of deprivation. This hits Greek women particularly hard as they will have to provide the safety net of last resort through intensified work of taking care of their families, friends and communities.

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