Is the working class now neoliberal too?

by Jehu

According to Spyros Dapergolas, (“Syriza at the gates”), here is the moral of SYRIZA’s victory in the Greece election:

“As before with PASOK, once again with SYRIZA…”

In other words, SYRIZA is doomed to follow in PASOK’s footsteps and end up as just another neoliberal social democrat party.

The writer wraps up his article with the big question:

“What should happen?”

by-tiago-hoiselWhich is to say, he ends by describing his anarchistic fantasy of, “a new militant and horizontal syndicalism, through self-organization in neighborhoods and a radical political engagement in libertarian/anarchist ideas and practices.”

This fantasy is, of course, the purest ideology, a recipe for new society jumping full blown from his head and, therefore, not covered in the shit and muck of countless political compromises. In the fantasy world Dapergolas inhabits, there are no insolvent banks, no NATO bases, no foreign trade and no capital flows. Since all of this filthy real world stuff has been cleared from the scene, we are now free to dream as if no such considerations press on our radical agenda for society.

Of course, it has taken Greece five years of brutal austerity just to get Greece voters to the point where they will even consider a radical government that basically promises no more than to be the next PASOK. Yet, in Dapergolas’s head, we can already dream of “a new militant and horizontal syndicalism”; Because, obviously, the 36% of voters who, after a half decade of austerity, bothered to vote for SYRIZA, really wished “a new militant and horizontal syndicalism” was on the ballot.

But here’s the problem: If the working class of Greece wanted “a new militant and horizontal syndicalism”; they did not need an election. Clearly the working class of Greece still wanted the illusion that, the writer argues, SYRIZA constitutes.

The writer asserts:

“If the issue is a sound management of both the Greek debt crisis and the madness of austerity, then, yes, SYRIZA is a solution. That would be a progressively systemic and reassuring solution for the shrinking “middle class”, as well as for the petit bourgeois parts of the Greek society that have the illusion that all this is temporary.

“For those who want more, for those who are interested in their class, for those that self-organization and participation is a demand, for the people of all kinds of struggle, SYRIZA constitutes an illusion. It is not SYRIZA’s fault that the exploited society is silent. And it is not SYRIZA’s fault if the new generation falls for parliamentarism and the bunkum of left governance.”

As it turns out, the issue in this election was just that: “sound management of both the Greek debt crisis and the madness of austerity.” Greece was not voting for “a new militant and horizontal syndicalism”, but sound management of the Greek debt crisis and austerity.

The question the writer has to answer is why when society was looking for sound management of the Greek debt crisis, they looked to SYRIZA, not the anarchists. Are anarchists incapable of sound management of the debt crisis and the madness of austerity? Is the KKE incapable of this? ANTARSYA?

All of these elements on the Left are like the guy who sits at home waiting for the call from an employer that will never come. He sent out his resume to prospective employers, with a nice cover letter. And he swears its only a matter of time before one calls.

If this article is any indicator, before this election, every party knew what the working class was looking for. And they all blame SYRIZA for trying to provide the working class what it was looking for. Nobody else but SYRIZA wanted to provide the working class what it was looking for; they wanted to provide it what they thought it needed.

The working class wanted a fix for the debt crisis and austerity — and they wanted that fix within the structure of the EU and the euro common currency. Everyone else had already decided the working class could only get its fix for the debt crisis outside the EU and the euro. So all forces on the Left had one requirement: Find a fix to the debt crisis that does not require Greece to leave the EU and the euro.

But, No. Most of these parties had already decided for themselves that no such fix exists.

Now you have to understand what the working class was asking for: A neoliberal solution to the crisis. That’s right the working class is no less a neoliberal class than the capitalists. This is quite difficult for the Left to get through their thick skulls because, for all of us, neoliberalism is capitalism. Except, the working class has been voting for neoliberalism and neoliberal parties since the 1970s.

The Left wants to convince itself that this is some sort of aberrant behavior on the part of the working class. Somehow, the working class is being tricked, bamboozled, by the capitalists and their parties; if we can just convince them how they are being tricked, they will gladly go back to the golden age of fascist autarky.

The Left has no interest in what the working class thinks, because they have already decided what is good for the working class. Since they already know what is in the interest of the working class, its voting behavior is clearly irrational.

But you can’t really beat up on the working class and maintain your street rep. Instead, you beat up on SYRIZA. Well, pardon me while I beat up on the class, not SYRIZA: The working class votes for neoliberals because it is itself neoliberal. So all of you Leftists can stop blaming SYRIZA and blame the working class itself. The working class ain’t fooled, bamboozled, tricked — it is fully on board with the neoliberal agenda.

And this presents the Left with a peculiar problem: it will only be successful to the extent it can offer neoliberal solutions to the crisis.

What is a neoliberal solution to the crisis of capitalism? By a neoliberal solution, I mean a solution that does not assume the state has any mechanism to implement conventional Keynesian policies. Being in the EU and in the euro common currency means the individual nation state has no control of its monetary policies or its economy. These states cannot, in the middle of an economic crisis, rely on countercyclical intervention and temporary state employment and income supports.

All the Left has to do is figure out how to address economic crises when the state cannot simply spend its way out of it.

So far every party on the Left, except SYRIZA, only wants to convince the working class to leave the euro. And so far the working class only votes for parties that promise not to leave the euro. You can consider this an aberration, but this is in fact what the working class has been doing since Thatcher. Either you come to grips with it, or enjoy your position on the political margins of society.

If I can help you make up your mind on this, let me remind you of one over-riding truth in the age of neoliberalism:


It is the state of the capitalists, the ideal representative of the capitalist class that the working class has turned its back on. Why the fuck would you even care?