21st Century partisan warfare for an aggressive new SYRIZA government

by Jehu

According to @NickMalkoutzis on twitter, “The one question SYRIZA needs to answer” is a must read analysis of the difficulties the new SYRIZA government in Greece will face once it takes power.

Greece has a primary surplus of 3 billion euros, but 21 billion in debt obligations. It is locked out of credit markets and living on handouts. Thus, according to @YiannisMouzakis,

“The maturities of bonds in July and August seem to place in front of SYRIZA a hard stop,  allowing just enough time for its government to be left to stew before it is forced to concede under the pressure of a potential  default on the bonds held by the ECB.”

Syros_El._Venizelou_ErmoupoliIf @YiannisMouzakis is to be believed then, SYRIZA plainly has been set up to fail by the Samaras government, the IMF and the ECB. Samaras, the IMF and the ECB will then blame SYRIZA for the economic disaster that follows. As the crisis spirals downward, Samaras supporters will take to the streets in a replay of the color revolutions plaguing Europe. Greece will be economically strangled by creditors and the streets will appear to be gripped by popular outrage. Eventually, the army (NATO) will step in to ‘restore calm’ and, with a junta in firm control, and US/EU economic advisers running the state, the small country will face draconian Chile-style ‘reforms’.

SYRIZA has a chance to change this scenario, but only if it acts aggressively and smartly. First, the leaders of the party will have to realize @YiannisMouzakis is correct: There will never be enough money to employ the 27% of the labor force that is unemployed, put an end to poverty and reverse the austerity that currently burdens the country. So, SYRIZA will be forced to think outside the box if it hopes to succeed.

SYRIZA cannot hesitate once it forms a new government, it must be aggressive and seek to inflict the greatest possible damage on its foes in the least time possible. If SYRIZA hesitates and seeks negotiations with its enemies, the party is lost. SYRIZA will need to ignore all advice that begins with the assumption Greece can’t ‘afford’ a Left solution. Greece can afford a Left solution because a real Left solution does not involve money.

Money is controlled by the European Central Bank, which makes it the terrain of the enemy. You don’t fight on your enemy’s terrain. The class war will be won by compelling the enemy to fight on the terrain that favors you.

Here are a few suggestions for steps SYRIZA could immediately take that do not require any money at all — we could call them the low-hanging fruit within SYRIZA’s grasp:

  1. The central bank should be seized and nationalized the moment the party takes power. Cost: zero
  2. The military should be dismantled and all officers discharged. Cost: zero
  3. All foreign debts should be immediately written off.  And SYRIZA does not have to negotiate with anyone over the debt. If the party prefers, the debt could be converted into bonds at a steep (50%) negative interest rate. Cost: zero
  4. The entire detailed history of Greece-Troika negotiations should be published. Cost: zero
  5. SYRIZA should reduce hours of labor by 50% immediately. Cost: zero
  6. The largest privately and publicly owned enterprises should be handed over to their employees to operate as trustees of the public. Cost: zero

Critical to this are the final two measures aimed at directly changing the material relations of production within the Greece economy: A reduction of hours of labor will severely restrict the production of surplus value and make most of the nation’s productive capital unprofitable for the capitalists to operate as capitals, while having no impact on its useful function as cooperatively managed means of production of use values. It will also help absorb the mass of the unemployed population. What ever surplus value is produced now will be directly converted into free disposable time for the workers. While turning every public and private firm over the employees will immediately turn the largest part of the economy into cooperatives directly managed by the working class.

Both measures will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse: Turning every firm into a cooperative will force the capitalists to fight to retake every capitalist firm factory by factory. Like the bloodiest sort of urban warfare, the advantage will be to the defenders and the capitalists will suffer heavy losses. Reducing hours of labor means turning surplus labor time of all the workers into free disposable time, thus forcing the capitalists to try to seize back every free hour literally at gun-point. Thus, the capitalists will then be faced with the prospect of having to fight one by one to seize back every factory in the country  and to forcibly extend hours of labor of every single worker in the country.

None of the above measures requires a single euro of expenditures, but it will certainly break the back of the austerity offensive in Europe as surely as Greek partisans did to the Nazis in World War II.