This is the most difficult piece I have written in twenty years as a journalist. What can I say about this agreement? And most importantly, what must we actually do?
If you support the conservatives, the socialists or that “POTAMI” party, “The River” in between, you should have no problem: you rejoice on the failure of SYRIZA anyway, and will continue scheming to overthrow the government. If you support the Communist party you shout ‘ It is only Us who are consistent’. If finally you are one of those venomous voters who long before January ridiculed SYRIZA calling them a priori traitors - again you should have no problem.
A new Memorandum?
But if, on the other hand you believe that the business of this government is your business , –whether you support SYRIZA or not–, that it is a big opportunity for the Left and also for your country, if you are anguished for the fate of this government – then you are in the dire straits.
This line of reasoning is inconclusive; it can be used to support whichever eventuality one is favorably predisposed to: Signing the Memorandum, pursuing a rupture with the Eurogroup or even an exit from the EU. Neither the elections nor the referendum (without underestimating its importance) gave SYRIZA the mandate to pursue a rupture or to sign a new memorandum. A few observations:
* The Greek government proposal is, frankly, appalling. It is yet another Memorandum. It is a clear failure of the government and the SYRIZA programme as a whole (who promised abolition of the memoranda, an ‘honest compromise’ etc). It is a personal and a collective failure of everyone who would call himself ‘a comrade’.
* SYRIZA has a significant political responsibility for this development: both its analyses and politics proved to be unrealistic. Still, this responsibility is minor compared to that of the creditors. The mouse attempted to wrestle the elephant –that was impossible, if not comical. The situation is critical because here we have a collective failure of Europe as an Institution.
* The agreement should not be called ‘just’ ‘viable’ etc. Had Mr. Samaras signed such an agreement, we would have revolted. So let’s underline what is good about it but mainly let’s confess our failure. Let’s say it is the result of an ultimatum leveraged by a financial stranglehold. It is also an aspect of this juncture in history: in Europe social democracy is nearly synonymous with the Right. While the Left and the activist groups are small; their demonstrations are emotional but ineffective.
* The main accomplishment of the SYRIZA government is that it brought to the centre stage, under the spotlight, the prolonged austerity in Greece in the context of democracy in Europe. PM Tsipras’s talk in the European Parliament sparked solidarity manifestations throughout Europe. Even some cracks appeared in the European neo-liberal front.
What is that ‘rupture’?
Finally what is that ‘rupture’? Is it bankruptcy within the Eurozone? Is it the infamous Grexit? Or even exit from the EU? I find disconcerting that each one can understand whatever they want.
* If the rupture would happen tomorrow, it would be in the most disorganised, painful and disastrous way: with an unprepared state machine, empty bank vaults, hasty printing of national currency resulting to an economic, social and political mayhem. The word ‘catastrophe’ is etched in my mind. This would, indeed, be the worst case scenario hurting the weakest, as always happens in a clash ridden society. In this case the government would very likely step down.
*There is however a more meaningful question: even if the ‘rupture’ was executed according to a plan, in an orderly way, and without a government collapse why would it bring the country to a better position? Why would the lower classes (those on minimum wage and low pensions, the unemployed, the youth) benefit? Would a left government outside the Eurozone, or even the EU, be able to survive the power game, prevail the markets’ pressures and improvethe country’s position in the international division of labour?
If we failed as members of the Euro because we were weaker than those opposite to us, why would we be stronger outside the Eurozone? How could we achieve better terms when negotiating with old and new creditors? This would only be possible if the country was isolated, walled, not trading and not lending or borrowing.
A double impasse
Both signing the memorandum and a disorderly Grexit are two choices dictated by the creditors. None of these two options reflects the will of SYRIZA and the Greek people.
Let’s be sincere; let’s not beautify the agreement, let’s not idealize the Rupture.
- Translated by: Maria Athini - Christos Papavassiliou
- The original text was first published on: Enthemata” Avgis, 11.7.2015
- Link to original version: Αγαθόν το εξομολογείσθαι