STANISLAWSKI: The current situation in Greece reveals the political plight of the international left

A few days ago another political documentary about Greece struck the internet. All social forums are on fire again. Another wave of cheap excitement and pathetic lamentation is reaching its peak.

The title of the movie is ?Greece on the brink? and it has been produced by people I know from my past political activity. But, in fact, it does not matter. All movies regarding Greece I had seen before I came across that one are just the same. Bombastic, catastrophic atmosphere borrowed from cheap horror scenarios and a few dramatic monologues (background voice and interviews). And this is it. So far, I learned nothing new: the situation is tragic, Greece is (or is approaching it) a Third-World economy, the population drowns in poverty, the international financial elite exploits the poor people, not a single cent of the gigantic borrowings stays in the real Greek economy — everything is being immediately transferred to German, French and American banks as paybacks, the rate of suicides is growing, the social services are being completely dismantled, rampant privatization of everything you can imagine is going on… I know.

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Roberts: The failure of forecasting

All the talk among mainstream economics is that faster economic growth is just around the corner. All the august analysts at those grotesque investment banks like Goldman Sachs or Deutsche Bank expect global growth will move up to around 4% next year from a feeble 3% this year. And the chief economist of the IMF, Olivier Blanchard, always quick to try to keep up with the economic Joneses?, has announced that he intends to raise his forecasts for US real GDP growth for next year.

Well, I?ll look at prospects for 2014 in my next post after the Christian seasonal break. But while those of you who do, are eating their turkey or whatever, remember that economic forecasting is way less accurate than weather forecasting. And in the case of the period since the Great Recession, mainstream economic forecasts have been consistently too optimistic. In fact, since 2010, global GDP growth has declined every year and 2013 will continue this trend: 2010: 5.2%; 2011: 3.9%; 2012: 3.2% and 2013: 2.9%. For the advanced capitalist economies, growth has been even poorer: 2010: 3%; 2011: 1.7%; 2012: 1.5% and 2013: 1.2%.

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Roberts: Greed is good, inequality is necessary and might is right — Ayn Rand & Pope Francis

Ayn Rand is very popular persona with the right-wing elite particularly in the US. Public followers of her philosophy of greed and self-interest include ex-Chair of the US Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan and Paul Ryan, leading Republican Congressman and Tea Party ?libertarian? Ron Paul.

Rand?s philosophy is really the epitome of thinking by the modern rich elite of the world. She did not believe in God, did not want a monarchy or an aristocracy and certainly not democracy. Society should be ruled by the wealthy and powerful who knew what to do. In this bourgeois Platonic world, the elite would operate purely on self-interest and greed would be their watchword. The rest of us were no more than human garbage to be used to make society function for the rich. The rich elites were the heroes and the masses were a dangerous mob that must be suppressed if they sought any democratic say in the running of this ?pure capitalist? society.

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Faster growth in 2014?

So here we are starting 2014 and heading towards seven full years since the global credit crunch began in summer 2007 and into the fifth year since the summer of 2009 when the Great Recession reached its trough and the global economic recovery began. What I said more or less at this time last year was:

In 2013, economic growth in the major economies is likely to be much the same as in 2012 ? pretty weak and below long-term averages. But 2013 is not likely to see a return of a big slump in capitalism. I do not expect the US to grow faster than in 2012 and Europe and Japan will struggle to grow at all. The key emerging economies may do a little better than in 2012, as China?s state-directed economy under new leaders invests more. But on the whole, it will be another poor year.

And so it has turned out more or less, even with the US economy. US average annual real GDP growth (including the Great Recession and an estimate for 2013) has been just 0.9% compared to 2.4% in the years before 2007 and way below the average real growth of the 1980s and 1990s.

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The nature of the epoch, the rate of profit and the world economy

During the Socialist Network’s annual conference, which has been held in Cyprus this year, Jonathan Clyne, one of the international coordinators of the organization, spoke on the global economic crisis.

In his speech he outlined a few important analytic problems often neglected when it comes to discussing the 2008-11 recession. He takes up the question of the classical Marxist analysis wich involves the rate of profit and its tendency to fall and go up as a basic factor and links it up with the nature of the epoch as well as explains the role of the regional peculiarities which — like in the case of the Eurozone — determine partially the outcome of the crisis.


Press the play button to listen to the speach.

Which road for Greece? (part 2)

Published: 2 April 2013
Author: Pat Byrne

In Part 1 of this two-part assessment we explained some of the factors behind the rise of the left-wing SYRIZA movement in Greece to the point where it is now the most popular party in the country and could lead a future government. Here Pat Byrne highlights some important weaknesses in SYRIZA’s programme and proposes constructive changes that could determine its success or failure.

But what programme are SYRIZA offering and is it capable of solving Greece?s economic crisis?

Certainly, the election manifesto that SYRIZA stood on last year was extremely radical. This was to be warmly welcomed and received mass support among the population. But there are already signs that the majority of the Party leadership are moderating their proposals under the heavy pressure of the mass media and capitalist society. This was evident at last December?s Party Congress debates over the Party?s programme and in various contributions from leading figures since.

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Peer-to-peer revolution — Challenging traditional capitalist business models

ID-10018651One could have long arguments over the exact definition of socialism if it?s posed as an abstract future-construction. However such a discussion will acquire different quality if we are to base it upon real processes which we can observe in the present reality which are already undermining and (or even outplacing in certain conditions) the established models.

Why not start with Wikipedia and other examples of so-called peer production that are challenging traditional hierarchical capitalist business models? Wikipedia is a profoundly anti-capitalist and even communist way of producing and distributing knowledge. It is based on the principle to each according to need, from each according to ability. The contributors or editors are not paid and the users are not charged, which again flies in the face of all capitalist logic. Furthermore, Wikipedia is egalitarian produced on the basis of horizontal reciprocities rather than hierarchical control.

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Which road for Greece? (part 1)

SYRIZA-logoPublished: 13 Feb 2013
Author: Pat Byrne

In many EU countries, the economic debt crisis and the austerity measures introduced by the main parties have provoked large scale strikes, mass street protests and significant shifts in electoral support. In particular, the tendency of the social democratic parties to go along with the shifting of the debts of the banks on to working people has opened up a vacuum to the left. Thus we have seen rising support for the Left Bloc of Portugal, the Front Gauche of France and most dramatically for the Coalition of the Radical Left in Greece, more commonly known by its initials SYRIZA.

The following is a two-part examination of this Greek phenomenon and its potential. Part 1 examines how the crisis has helped the rise of SYRIZA. Part Two looks more closely at SYRIZA?s programme and organisation and discusses what measures are needed to overcome the crisis in Greece in favour of working people.

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What future for Greece and Cyprus?

The Euro was bound to be a disaster for the weaker economies of the Eurozone. Without the ability to control their own fiscal policies these economies were catastrophically exposed to the vagaries of the world economic situation. As long as the going was good heavy borrowing could sustain their economies and provide a reasonable growth rate. This in turn provided near-full employment and a rising standard of living for the general population.

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