Greek Referendum: Vote No, but Mass Workers’ Action is Needed to Prevent Social Collapse
Today (Sunday 5th July) the Greek population will vote on whether to accept the draconian austerity conditions of the Troika (IMF,ECB and EC) or not. Marxist World, the faction of the CWI, unconditionally call for a No (Oxi) vote to reject the continuing unloading of the effects of the global capitalist crisis on the backs of the working class, oppressed and most vulnerable in society.
Prime Minister Tspiras, the head of the Greek coalition government and leader of Syriza, is also calling for a No vote but for very different reasons. Under his leadership, Syriza have capitulated on almost every point in their electoral programme, both to the Greek people and to the Troika. Reports suggest that Tsipiras is prepared to concede on most demands of the Troika, with even his original ‘red lines’ gone out the window. Workers should have no illusions in the Syriza leadership. They are using the referendum primarily to ‘save face’; Should the No vote win, they will reject the current offer but then return to the negotiation table and immediately look to make a fractionally better deal with the Troika. They will then place the blame on the Troika for the inability to fulfil their programme, when in reality it is the Syriza leadership who has led the working class down a dead-end with 6 months of inaction.
On the other hand, a Yes vote will prompt the leadership to resign for lack of a “people’s mandate”, although it will only be the Syriza leadership themselves to blame for such a result for betraying the millions who voted for what they thought was an “anti-austerity” party. Unfortunately, we fear this is the most likely possibility given the circumstances:
Since last week, the banks have been forced to close due to lack of emergency funds being provided from the ECB. Greek banks have had to ration cash withdrawals for account-holders to 50 Euros. The whole financial system in Greece has ground to a halt and workers have stopped being paid and capital flight has accelerated. Companies are no longer able to fulfil orders and so supplies of food, medicine and petrol are beginning to run out. Banks are literally running out of money to function. If this is left to continue into next week, Greek society may begin to break down as businesses go bankrupt and prompt mass lay-offs. Riots and social unrest will begin to ensue as the basis of capitalist society breaks down in lieu of a socialist alternative. In this context, workers may simply want a swift end to the chaos by accepting the Troika’s conditions, or some sort of compromise deal. In this case, the blame would lie solely with the Left and the failure to show a viable way out of the Greek crisis.
Shamefully, some on the Left have trumpeted these “capital controls” as a blow against the rich and the Troika. In reality, from the perspective of the Syriza government and the banks, they had no choice in order to protect the Greek banking system, in much the same way as the UK government nationalised the banks in 2008 in order to avert their collapse. These were not “socialist” measures that could be incorporated into part of a “transitional” programme as some have deliriously claimed, but desperate measures to save Greek capitalism.
Despite this impending collapse of the Greek banks and normal functioning of capitalism, the bulk of the centrist/reformist Left have continued to call on the discredited Syriza government to nationalise the banks and implement a programme of investment in Greece! Given the actual situation on the ground, this is utterly deluded – there is no money! Unfortunately, the CWI has continued to promote this line: The Greek section of the CWI, Xekinima, have uncritically supported the “Initiative 1000” programme which calls for a “turn to massive public investment” and “economic growth” on the basis of the “nationalisation of the banks and key strategic areas”. Ruth Coppinger TD, member of the Irish Socialist Party claimed that Syriza had to just nationalise the banks in order to “redevelop the economy”!
Given the banks have no money to spare, such a programme is a fantasy. The alternative money to the Euro would be a national currency, such as the Drachma. In the unlikely event of a No vote, there is an even more unlikely possibility that Tsipras will not renegotiate a bail-out package, forcing the economy to return to a low-value currency, Drachmas. However, such a move would also be disastrous for the Greek workers on a capitalist basis of “economic growth”. Resorting to the printing press, Greece would be reduced to third-world status like Zimbabwe with its hyper-inflation.
A serious socialist programme for Greece must start with the expropriation of the major corporations and assets of the wealthy under workers’ control. Such a programme will not come from Syriza, who have already deployed the police against “unruly” No vote protestors. It must be the workers, organised in neighbourhood, workplace and regional councils who will organise anti-police/anti-rightist self-defence units and carry out such a process. On this basis, the production and distribution of basic goods to meet the immediate needs of the Greek population can be ascertained and met. An immediate mass programme of asset seizure and transportation of all available foods and medicines to the population will create and strengthen the network of support and solidarity of the Greek masses. No one must be left behind – the homeless must be housed and the hungry fed!
Such a process would not involve money, much to the hysteria of the fat cats in Greece and abroad as their capital evaporates into thin air. The workers will merely laugh at the bankrupted speculators. Stepping over the corpse of these parasites, the Greek masses will put out a call to the workers of Europe for immediate support and solidarity. Greece is a small nation and, whilst it may become self-sufficient in terms of food under a democratic socialist plan of agriculture, it cannot produce all the medicines, technology and infrastructure required to support the population itself. Therefore such a socialist revolution in Greece must necessarily spread to Europe, or it risks ending in bloody counter-revolution by right-wing military forces that wait in the wings, along with the fascist Golden Dawn, if the situation is not resolved swiftly.
Whatever the result of the referendum tomorrow, Syriza will be discredited one way or another. What the workers of Greece currently lack is a serious Marxist leadership that can warn the masses of the sell-out of Tsipiras and put forward a socialist action plan to prevent the impending social collapse in Greece. The only way forward is workers’ power on the basis of socialist revolution in Greece and Europe.