The EU have struck at Syriza to warn the rest of Europe of the folly of electing anti-austerity representatives writes Brian Heron

The drastic terms of the EU/Syriza deal (July 13) have destroyed any remains of the Syriza leadership’s project; to overturn the ‘neo-con’ austerity policy in Europe and the Eurozone, currently led by Germany, in favour of a policy for growth and for the protection of the living standards of the working and middle classes. 

The deal has all the hallmarks of a deliberate and pitiless revenge on the Greek nation. Greece is to have no authority over its fiscal policy, an indefinite status, which is to be swallowed by the Greek parliament and then conducted day by day, by the Troika, in Athens.

The Greek government is to sell off all of the nation’s assets but keep the proceeds in a separate account – to pay debts. And although every economist in the world knows it will have to happen eventually, Greece is to remain encumbered by all of its debts – apparently a specific requirement of Mrs Merkel –  with no guarantee of their reduction. 

Syriza is breaking up under the weight of this defeat. Those, like the Syriza Minister for Administration, who honestly admits that Syriza was not able to overturn the ‘balance of forces’ in the EU and that the Greek ‘deal’ is a defeat and a blackmail of Greece, also claim that the war is not over. They point to coming elections in Spain, in Ireland and in Portugal. They believe that accepting the EU’s demands is not the end for Greece and that Syriza’s leadership at least has survived and will carry on fighting in the right direction. 

But this estimate is false. The ‘deal’ will crack Syrtiza wide open, produce a new defacto National Government and drive the Greek population lower and lower. The ‘deal’ carries with it its own story; that the election of Syriza was obviously foolish; that supporting Syriza has just made things even worse than they were; that there was no alternative but to accept Satrap status under German capital. And the effect of the Greek ‘deal’ on Spain and Ireland and Portugal will be to strengthen the idea that there is no alternative and to weaken consistently anti-austerity forces both within their own movements and parties and in their larger societies. 

However Greek’s new ‘deal’ is so shaming; so burdensome, so endless that it reveals a serious error in the thinking and in the demands on Greece made by the now re-empowered princelings of the EU. The mistake thay have made is to conflate Syriza with the Greek mass movement against austerity. Syriza did emerge as a product of the Greek anti-austerity movement but not out of it.

In the movement of the squares in 2010-2012, a broad leadership emerged that certainly encouraged the then nascent leaders of Syriza to take a role, but there was no sense that Syriza blossomed out of, still less directed, the mass movement itself. On the contrary, there was more than a little resistence from some parts of Syriza in the face of the occupations and demonstrations.

Today, the Solidarity (not charity) organisations across Greece that run the voluntary markets and clinics and schools and pharmacies, and which are used by 3 million Greeks, are not initiated or run by Syriza. They were and are led by the vast layer of people that arose from Greece’s protest movement. Syriza was never the parliamentary wing of the Greek peoples’ anti-austerity movement. 

But the EU leaders do not know that. They would not understand it anyway, given their own entitlement based notions of leadership and the lack of connection with the ordinary people who pass by in the bus. They have struck at Syriza to warn the rest of Europe of the folly of electing anti-austerity representatives.

And they will likely break Syriza, whose main leaders will now need to rely on the votes of the old memorandum parties to carry the new austerity laws in the Greek parliament. Thus a new National Coalition will be born – in defence of the Euro.

The mass movement however is unlikely to face the same fate. So long as there is some, credible representation at the level of the national political institutions in general and in the Greek parliament in particular, the anti austerity movement of the Greek people, the sea in which the old Syriza could swim, will move again in defence of the whole nation. 

Syriza has, up to the referendum, led the fight against austerity in Europe and against the EU leadership, since its election on January 25 this year. It would have been absurd and sectarian to stand outside or on the margins of that fight. A subordinate argument inside Syriza’s leadership (and outside) meanwhile strongly argued that Greece should be prepared to repudiate all debt and to leave the eurozone.

Those who argued the case for this plan B denied that the fight within the eurozone was likely to remain the main, indeed only theatre of struggle for the continuing battle with austerity, and that preparations should be made for the shift in the location of the struggle. They have lost their argument in the leadership of Syriza at the moment where the battleground has definitively shifted. It is vital that they are now a leading part in the new formation and campaign – as a leading part of the Greek mass movement against its new austerity government.

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