Saturday, July 4, 2015

Greece: Tsipras speaks to Athens before the vote.

by Richard Mellor
Afscme local 444,retired.

We stand, as all workers should, in solidarity with the Greek workers and middle class who are voting today to reject the economic terrorism being forced on them by finance capital and the world's bankers.  This is a short clip of Tsipras speaking into a crowd in Athens and calling for a "No" vote. It cannot be denied that this is a historic moment but it has yet to be played out.

Perhaps there is  more to the speech but it would seem to me it was a golden opportunity not simply to call for a Greek no vote, but also to call on the working class of Europe to join the Greeks in taking on the Troika, the EU, the ECB and the IMF, and reject their austerity agenda. Somebody reminded me today that during the historic British Miners strike, some sections of the National Union of Miners (NUM), it might have been South Wales, said that the strike could not win if the TUC (the British AFL-CIO) did not call a National General Strike. They were right and the strike was defeated after a heroic year long struggle that bordered on a civil war with 18,000 cops on picket lines.

The governments and workers leaders of other poorer countries of Europe, Ireland, Portugal, have conceded to the Troika's demands.  Italy is another country in dire straits. Why did Tsipras not take this opportunity to call on the workers of Europe (and the world) to join them?  In the US, the austerity agenda is also destroying living standards of workers and the middle class sending the poor even deeper in to misery. Students are so overwhelmed with debt, them and their parents will be indebted for life. Public education is being savaged and privatized, accommodation is exorbitant in the cities.

What is the next step for Syriza if the Greeks vote no?  I was in a similar situation as this in a much smaller way. I was part of a negotiating team for my union local when it became apparent that we could make no more headway at the table and agreed to take the contract to the membership for a vote. But three of us would call for a "no" vote.  We felt that we could not call for a "no" vote without explaining that we could win no more at the table and putting forward a strategy for winning. We believed that more could be won if we took the struggle in to the wider union movement and working class communities, if we got help. But the membership had to enter the stage in a real active way. They chose not to and are still heading backwards.

I admit I am not deeply aware of all that has gone on in this situation and I do live in the US with the worst mass media of the advanced capitalist economies. I am not in Europe, I am in favor of a "no" vote and proud of the Greek people and Syriza's stand against the bloodsucking Troika. But I am also concerned because I do not believe they can win unless an all European offensive against European capital and the US represented by the IMF begins.

I do feel that a "No" vote is crucial because it sends a message that something has to be done and the first step in that just like a union contract is to say "no".

I am not pessimistic about a "no" vote. Lessons will be learned one way or another and coming this far is a victory of sorts. But I am not clear on what Tsipras and Syriza has in store if the Troika digs in and I can't tell from this speech. Do remember critics, it's only 10 minutes long and I may have missed something.

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