Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Why Syriza Cannot Buckle - Part 3 of 7

The lesson, for Syriza, and for Labour, should be clear, in the coming elections. They should go all out for a majority government, and accept nothing less. Any coalition, or other deal, with other parties, that involves compromise, should be rejected out of hand. If elected, they should, from day one, set out that they will implement the programme on which they were elected. If anything, they should go beyond it, in opposing austerity, in favour of further fiscal stimulus. If they do not have a majority to do so, they should refuse to take office, and assume a position of extreme opposition, insisting to the masses that they can only pursue their programme with such a majority, and that, unlike previous parties, they will not assume office, only then to betray them, by being forced into unprincipled compromises.

The reason for adopting that position, is not just out of a question of principal, nor simply a matter of tactics. Such a government, even in Greece, does not face opposition to its programme from the forces of big industrial capital. The programme of Syriza, let alone of Labour, is nothing more than the kind of Keynesian policy of fiscal stimulation, adopted by social-democratic parties in the past. Indeed, it is little different to the policy Obama has pursued in the US, and that even Bush was pursuing, in 2008, after the financial crash. The governments in the US and UK not only wrote off debts run up by the banks, way in excess of those in debate in Greece, but unlike Syriza, the US and UK governments nationalised those failing banks, so as to recapitalise them using state funds. In fact, there is every reason for the social forces that stand behind the ideology of social democracy, including big industrial capital, to give support to such a programme, as the means of stimulating the economy, in a way that repeated doses of money printing must and has failed to achieve.

Rather the opposition that Syriza faces, is from the forces of conservatism, represented by all of the backward sections of capital, and the social layers associated with it. In Greece, the most obvious manifestation of that will come from Golden Dawn, and those layers of the state it has infiltrated. As Paul Mason puts it,

“It is, then, most likely not over some prolonged debt restructure process that a populist left government in Greece or Spain might clash with the Euro authorities and the local elites; rather, on “Scandinavian” issues like police demilitarisation, abortion, the re-regulation of the labour market or an attempt to provide basic humanitarian solutions for illegal migrants clamouring at the borders of both countries.”

The best way of Syriza avoiding such a clash is to ensure that it retains and develops further its level of social support, and that can only be done if Syriza sticks to its commitment to anti-austerity. Social democracy, including its representatives within big industrial capital, across Europe, should do everything in its power to facilitate that process. That is not to say that Marxists should call on Greek workers to rely on such support coming to their assistance, or that they should enter into any kind of formal popular frontist agreement with that big capital, beyond what already exists in every social democratic party.

Whilst recognising that, for now, the workers have not gone beyond that social-democratic ideology, and we must continue to work with them, in social-democratic organisations, be they Trades Unions, or the existing Workers' Parties, our emphasis is to turn those organisations outwards, and to focus the workers' attention on building their own independent forms of property, and forms of self-government, independent of the bourgeois state. In fact, its only on that basis that workers can themselves, here and now, go beyond the outmoded restrictions of the nation state that acts as a fetter on the further development of capital. The demand for nationalisation is, by its nature, a purely nationalistic solution, and is restricted within, and gives further ideological support to the nation state. A worker owned co-operative has no such limitations, it can be a multinational business, organically tying together workers across borders, and cementing together their interests as workers, rather than as citizens of any nation. It represents the real nature of class struggle, as a struggle between this worker owned property and capitalist property, and does so across all borders.

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