The new deal between the Syriza-led Greek Government and the EU Finance Ministers appears to leave things more or less unchanged: in effect postponing a confrontation for four months.
However, on the Left, reactions to the agreement have been sharply different. On one side, some have said that ?Varoufakis?s strategy was pure genius, mainly because it knocked the EU finance ministers off balance and threw the process into turmoil?, and by the EU leaders agreeing to the deal ?they would be acknowledging (and, tacitly, approving) Greece?s determination to make the program less punitive in the future.?
At the other extreme, the deal has been presented as a ?betrayal?, the result of not going for a full blown socialist revolution. Somewhere in between these positions, there is the view that ?we should give the government a chance?. That they need a breathing space after just getting elected.
All these views miss the point. They do not relate to the hopes and aspirations of Greeks of finally getting politicians that keep what they promise. Success in politics, for those that oppose the establishment is not decided by being ?clever? either with tactics or slogans nor by being ?patient?, but by mobilisation.
The ruling class can always afford to hold out, it has an army of paid propagandists, bureaucrats, and people in prominent positions throughout society, never mind control over the monopoly of violence, that can chip away day by day undermining the enemy. The working class has numbers, creativity, justice, solidarity and organisation that when set in motion is an overwhelming force. However, to get it all together a focus is needed. Such a focus has been opposing the troika and stopping austerity. That swept Syriza to power. And the first impression that Syriza was actually implementing what it promised increased support for them and for confrontation with the Troika to levels that would have been unthinkable a few months ago. However, the new deal will not inspire confidence that the government will keep its promises.
Had the Syriza government used that momentum to mobilize one million on the streets of Athens against the Troika, sent 100 000 Greeks to Berlin and encouraged other Europeans to join them, as well as sending delegations to all those affected by austerity in Europe, the Troika would have come under huge pressure to back down and make a deal favourable to the Greek people. After 10 million workers occupied their factories in France in 1968, de Gaulle gave the trade unions everything they wished for. A large scale mobilisation would have scared the living daylights out of not only the Troika, but every single government in Europe. Suddenly, they would smell the evaporation of the apathy that they have relied upon to keep them in power and push through austerity.
Preparing for the Next Battle
Looking ahead, at the same time as preparing a massive mobilisation for the next repayment deadline, the Greek government needs to introduce capital controls and nationalisation of the banks in order to stop the immediate haemorrhaging of money from Greece. Without doubt, the vast majority of Greeks will support and welcome such measures as they are a logical consequence of fighting the Troika.
The arguments in favour of austerity are already completely disproved, theoretically and in practice. However, winning debates or having genius tactics in negotiations are toothless without mobilisation. Equally wrong is the idea that a government elected to fight the Troika could suddenly switch to fighting for a socialist revolution when it was not elected to do so. A successful struggle against the Troika can open up a vista of achieving a socialist transformation, but first the battle against austerity must be fought to a decisive outcome.
It is impossible to tell if the momentum has been broken to such a degree that it cannot be carried through to when negotiations resume. However, what is clear is that this is not the time to scream about betrayal nor to eulogize the Syriza government?s tactics, nor indeed to be patient. Every nerve must be strained to make sure that the government prepares for a massive mobilisation in four months? time. And that the European working class is ready to support them.
The author can be contacted at: bretorp