Thursday, June 25, 2015

Against Reformism in Greece

Trotskyists are uncompromising. The class line cannot be crossed. Accordingly they oppose popular fronts like Syriza, which consist of unprincipled alliances with bourgeois parties. That Syriza's coalition partner is a small, center-right outfit called ANEL simply demonstrates the perfidy.

Nevermind that the Left wing of Syriza is a sundry mob of Maoists, pseudo-Trotskyists, anarchists, etc. Nevermind that Alexis Tsipras has resolutely refused to compromise with the Troika on core issues. True Trotskyism, as expressed by Socialist Action, regards the whole movement as nothing but a bourgeois front, just waiting to sell out the working class as soon as politically expedient.

The global organization of Trotskyists is something called the Fourth International. The Greek section of the Fourth International is a grouplet that not even I had previously heard of: OKDE-Spartacos. If bombastic proclamations are a mark of revolutionary fervor, then these folks take the cake. Their statement is reprinted in Socialist Action. (The translation isn't very good.)

Of course no proclamation is complete without a list of demands at the end. These range from the stupid to the ridiculous. I've copied them below, along with my comments.

  • No new austerity measures, no new agreement, no negotiations
Why should there be no negotiation? What can one possibly lose by talking? Even Trotsky negotiated at Brest-Litovsk. Otherwise, this sounds also like Syriza's strategy. If Syriza is going to sell out the working class, then they've only got a few days left to do it.
  • Reduction of working hours, along with raises in wages and pensions
Greeks already don't work very hard--that surely is part of the problem. And where is the money for the wage & pension increase going to come from? Our Trotskyist friends don't say.
  • Stop paying off the debt and fully cancel it
Greece has long since stopped paying off its debt, and nobody is suggesting that they start now. The only issue is how the debt going to be refinanced so that the country doesn't default. Greek bailouts consist of money lent by European banks, which is then paid back to European banks to avoid the appearance of default. There is no advantage to anybody in letting Greece default--certainly not to the Greeks. By advocating default, OKDE shows why they are such a small, irrelevant organization.

Far from asking Greece to repay its debts, the Troika is merely insisting that it break even, i.e., run a primary surplus. That's a reasonable request, but the country can't do that with stifling regulations, a retirement age at 50 or 55, and a completely bloated public sector. (Some argue that Greece also needs to cut defense spending.) These misnamed "austerity" measures will bolster the Greek economy and enrich Greek consumers.

  • Expropriation of banks and big enterprises, with no compensation for capitalists, and operation under workers control
Greek banks are broke and continue to exist only by the generosity of the ECB. Expropriating them will yield no assets--only debts. And of course the ECB won't continue to put in money. Regarding "big enterprises", it's not clear that Greece actually has many of those, and decapitating a company hardly improves its chances of success. See, e.g., Zimbabwe.
  • Self-management of closing factories and enterprises
Good luck with that. I don't care who manages it, but without access to either capital or markets no business can flourish.
  • Disengagement from the euro and the EU, for an anticapitalist internationalist perspective For the self-organization, the government and the power of the working people
So 70% of Greeks want to stay in the Euro no matter what. That's because their standard of living depends on it. If Greece is forced out of the Euro instant poverty will follow. I've always said that Trotskyists are pro-poverty, but rarely is it so dramatically illustrated.

Frankly, this is just pathetic. There is such a thing as intelligent Trotskyism--I've remarked on it many times on the blog. But that Socialist Action reprints the foolish ramblings of silly people is beneath their dignity.

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