An uncomfortable question for the Left after SYRIZA’s victory: Was Nick Land right all along?

Rory Scothorne (@shirkerism) tweeted this interesting statement:

“tbh the best way of getting a Scottish Syriza probably would have been via the brutal troika/IMF restructuring following independence”

wowtripod_profileSo does this mean Nick Land is at long last vindicated? The Left is very bad at drawing lessons from its own experiences, so I just want to hear the Left acknowledge Nick Land was mostly right.

SYRIZA’s victory in Greece, has only come after years of a brutal austerity regime, where, SYRIZA finance minister Varoufakis once argued, “everyone except the Nazis, the bigots and the misanthropic racists will be a loser”.

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Greece is already a failed state: SYRIZA must let it die

By the time you read this, SYRIZA will likely be the governing party in Greece. That said, Laurel & Hardy3SYRIZA will find its desk filled with a large number of pressing problem, the most important of which — according to common wisdom — is what to do about the debt. Here is my suggestion: Tell Greece’s creditors to screw and let the state go bankrupt. The only path for SYRIZA out of the crisis is to let the already failed Greece state fail officially as well.

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How a simple proposal from SYRIZA may just fundamentally alter class relations in Europe

The environmental scientist, Giorgos Kallis may be one of the most important economic thinkers in SYRIZA. I came across Kallis, quite accidentally when Alexis Tsipras, (Twitter: @tsipras_eu), highlighted giorgos21394016401Kallis’s writing in a recent tweet.

I immediately realized Kallis is a supporter of reduced labor time for the working class — a pet project of mine — both as an answer to Europe’s stubborn unemployment problems and on ecological concerns. According to a 2013 paper written by Kallis and Nicholas Ashford,

“under the right conditions, more free time can decrease unemployment and help develop a greener, more sustainable Europe.”

In other words, two of the most important global issues today, unemployment and global climate change, can be addressed by less labor.

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A SYRIZA win will unleash an earthquake on the Left

According to the most recent correspondence from Greece by Paul Mason, the thinking by influential people within SYRIZA is dangerously unrealistic about the troika, social democrats and greeceGreece’s isolation.

Says Mason,  Euclid Tsakalotos “has totally unrealistic expectations of the way the ECB negotiates, and the rationale from which it negotiates.” Far from thinking the current austerity regime in Greece has gone too far, the troika still believes wages have not fallen far enough. Thus, writes Mason, there is a dangerous mismatch of expectations between SYRIZA and the troika.

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Jacobin Magazine Shocker: Even if SYRIZA wins, the Left will probably lose

jacobin_logoPeter Bratsis over at Jacobin is trying to manage down your expectations regarding the probable impact of a now likely SYRIZA win:

“Regrettably, the political conjuncture in Greece and beyond does not present us with an urgent task of deciding which path to socialism is the best. All political parties (Syriza, KKE, Antarsya, included) are, quite the opposite, largely debating which path is best for restoring jobs, wages, health care, education, and the like. No one is advocating a radical break with the past and the creation of a new society.

The desire on the streets, in the meeting halls, and in the voting booths is not the desire for the new and more excellent, it is a desire for security, predictability, and jobs.”

According to Bratsis then, the revolutionary impulse of socialist parties is being blunted by the conservative attitudes of the working class? (I think I have that right.)

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In case you were wondering: Yes, the chief economic adviser to Tsipras is insane.

The title of this post is, by any measure extremely rude and provocative, but bear with me. If you can get through the first section of this post, which is extremely wonky, I will show why one of the most important advisers to SYRIZA is likely living in his own special world, and not subject to arguments founded in the real world. According to Einstein (or Mark Twain, or an old Chinese proverb or Benjamin Franklin — who knows for sure) insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. If this is true John Milios is insane, as I will prove.

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Podemos, SYRIZA and Europe’s “scary” neoliberal future

Alexis-Tsipras-Iglesias-AtenasFoto-Hermann_EDIIMA20140620_0627_13Yesterday Pablo Iglesias of Podemos sent out a message of support and solidarity for SYRIZA and Alexis Tsipras. While the statement was to be expected, it contained what I think is one of the more important defects in the approach both SYRIZA and Podemos have taken to the crisis:

“I’m Pablo Iglesias from Podemos and my message to the Greek people is quite clear. I think there are two options in the new elections in Greece, two candidates. The candidate whose name is Angela Merkel and is represented by parties like PASOK and New Democracy and the Greek candidate, his name is Alexis Tsipras. I’m sure the Greek people are going to choose a Greek new President for the country. I think in the South of Europe we need Presidents that will defend and protect the national sovereignty. “

I draw your attention to the last sentence in Iglesias’s message: “I think in the South of Europe we need Presidents that will defend and protect the national sovereignty.”

My question about this statement is this: Why is this not fascism? Why is Iglesias afraid of the end of national sovereignty in the South of Europe? What has the nation state ever given humanity but war, colonialism, progroms and exploitation?

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The historical context of Greece’s election

No matter the outcome of Greece’s election circus, the capitalists are losing the war. Can the Left take advantage of this?

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Kevin Ovenden has a very interesting post to Counterfire, Dispatches from hope: a primer on the Greek election, in which he places the SYRIZA election campaign in the historical context of a long struggle against the neoliberalist political forces that emerged out of the 1970s depression. The present developments in Greece echo the struggles of the 1980s, says, Ovenden, but while the tune is familiar, the words have changed:

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Are Marxists calling for a return to fascist state management in Greece?

Anyone who thinks Greece should leave the euro might want to revisit the Argentina depression of 1998-2002. According to Wikipedia, at the height of the depression almost 60% of the country lived below the poverty line. Argentina was forced to default on its debt, unemployment rose to 25% and the state froze all bank accounts for 12 months.

golden-dawn-greece-730The parallel to Greece is significant because although Argentina never was a member of a common currency, at the outset of the crisis, its currency, the peso, was fixed 1-1 to the dollar. The parallel between Greece and Argentina is that the euro also acts like a fixed exchange among many different national currencies. Thus, if Greece were to exit the euro common currency system, it would essentially be like floating the drachma against the mark, franc, and so forth. If this is true, at least in theory, the exit of Argentina from its fixed exchange with the dollar at the beginning of its own 1998 crisis may throw light on what Grexit would mean for the Greece working class.

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Greece and the long awaited collapse of the Marxist underconsumptionist school

No Grexit

Tank-Top---€With SYRIZA now appearing to be a lock for forming the next government in Greece, some Marxist writers are suggesting there is a serious problem with the party’s commitment to staying in the European Union and the euro common currency.

In a post to Left Flank, Thanasis Kampagiannis, argues that leaving the common currency is a precondition for an effective revolutionary politics today:

“There is an analogy between the question of the Euro and the Left’s approach to the First World War. The decision to break with the war effort — and, even more, to break with it unilaterally — became central to the realignment of the Left. This does not mean that everyone who was in favour of peace was a Marxist. The same goes today: not everyone in favour of breaking with the euro is a revolutionary socialist. For example, Costas Lapavitsas’ proposed “Grexit” program, which Richard refers to, is a radical anti-neoliberal program for restoring Greek capitalism’s competitiveness outside the straightjacket of the Euro through depreciation of a national currency. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that breaking with the Euro is the necessary step for any anti-capitalist politics that wants to end austerity and start imposing a pro-working class agenda.”

But why is it revolutionary to pull Greece out of the euro and EU? I get the distinct feeling people think SYRIZA is to be faulted for its refusal to leave the EU and I am not sure why that would be. From reading Kampagiannis’s article I feel I have a much better grasp of some of the forces at work within the Left in Greece, but I have a lot of questions about his anti-euro, anti-EU, argument.

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