‘Our Athens Spring’ a speech by Yanis Varoufakis

VaroufakisPublished: 25 September 2015.

This fascinating and detailed speech on what really happened inside the negotiations between Greece and the Troika, was delivered just over a month ago on August 23, 2015, by former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis. He was speaking at a festival  organised in the French department of Saône-et-Loire by the local organisation of the French Socialist Party, which is associated with former French industry minister Arnaud Montebourg. Montebourg was sacked from this post in August 2014 by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

?Let me tell you why I am here with words I have borrowed from a famous old manifesto. I am here because:

A spectre is haunting Europe ? the spectre of democracy. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: The state-sponsored bankers and the Eurogroup, the Troika and Dr Schäuble, Spain?s heirs of Franco?s political legacy and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) of Germany’s Berlin leadership, Baltic governments that subjected their populations to terrible, unnecessary recession and Greece?s resurgent oligarchy.

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How A Victory for Jeremy Can be Turned into the Transformation of the British Labour Party

Combo hi-resPublished: 2 September 2015
Author: Pat Byrne (TSN Editor)

The announcement of the outcome of the British Labour Party leader election is almost upon us. While we don’t want to ‘count our chickens before they hatch’, we need to start seriously preparing for the historic likelihood that Jeremy Corbyn will become the next leader of the Labour Party.

The unprecedented scale and speed of the upsurge for Jeremy is evidence of the huge dam of discontent that has been building up for a long time. A movement that was artificially held back by a capitalist media that has done all it can to suppress the mass of anti-austerity and pro equality voices. And a Labour Party machine that has undemocratically sought to prevent the natural development of a strong left opposition. However, the more something is held back the more forceful the flow when it is released. In this case, the powerful combination of a social media bypassing the tradition press and television, and an open voting system for Labour leader free of the Party’s machine, has finally let the genie out of the bottle. In doing so it has allowed us to achieve something that the Labour Left has dreamed of for generations.

But in all the enthusiasm and excitement, we also have to recognise that the election of Jeremy as Labour leader is just the start of a much bigger series of tasks: transforming the Labour Party; convincing the larger public of our alternative to Austerity and inequality; winning a majority in the 2020 election; and changing Britain into a democratic socialist society.

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Book Review: Mick Brooks evaluates Paul Mason’s ‘Postcapitalism: a Guide To Our Future’

Collage lightPublished: 29 August 2015.
Reviewer: Mick Brooks.

Paul Mason is the Economics Editor of Channel 4 News. As an ex-lefty, he offers a critical perspective on developments within capitalism. His latest book is not lacking in ambition: it promises nothing less than a guide to the future! It is indeed wide-ranging, and a challenging read for socialists.

What is Postcapitalism?
First the good news – according to Mason capitalism is likely to disappear off the face of the earth. Now the bad news – it will not be replaced by socialism, but by ?postcapitalism?. What is this beast?

?Capitalism, it turns out, will not be abolished by forced-march techniques. It will be abolished by creating something more dynamic that exists, at first, almost unseen within the old system, but which will break through, reshaping the economy around new values, behaviours and norms.? (Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism, p.xiv)

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Debate: American Presidential Elections – Culture War versus Freedom for All

Published: 21 August 2015.
Author: Paul Shepard.
Introduction by: TSN Editor.

The candidature of the 73-year-old self-styled ?socialist? Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders in the race for the US Democratic Party Presidential nomination has certainly brought the nomination contest alive. A huge number of people have been turning out to hear Sanders at rallies across America, with 28,000 crowding into a local Sanders rally in a basketball arena in Portland Oregon on August 10th and similar numbers attending a meeting in Los Angeles. Volunteers are queuing up to help the campaign with nearly 50,000 so far which is beginning to match Clinton?s professional campaign financed from her $2 billion war chest (provided mainly by the banks and the corporate elite) . All of this is now being reflected in the polls with support for Sanders among Democratic Party voters rising quickly – now at around 30% – while for front-runner Hillary Clinton it is falling at 47%.
…However, the participation of Bernie Sanders in this race is a controversial one on the America Left given the nature of the Democratic Party and the fate that has befallen past attempts of more progressive candidates to win the presidential nomination. A few months ago we carried an article opposing his campaign: ?Is US Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders ?sheep-dogging? for Hillary and the Democrats?? And we invited anyone who supported Bernie?s campaign to submit their views for publication. Thanks to Paul Shepard for responding to the challenge.

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China: Is It All Over?

China crashPublished: 8 August 2015
Author Michael Roberts
Intro by: TSN Editor

The stock market in China has had a mighty fall in the last few weeks. Does this imply a coming economic crisis or is it just another bump in the road for China?s economic miracle?

 

In recent weeks, the Chinese stock market has taken a massive plunge and in July shares suffered their worse month in six years, falling by 29% from the peak in June. This followed a humungous boom in stock prices since the beginning of 2015. Indeed, since August of last year, the market index in Shanghai has risen 160%. And even after the collapse in the last month the index is still nearly 80% higher than this time in 2014.

This stock market bubble is of the proportion of the US in the 1920s that led to the crash of 1929 and the subsequent great depression. Is this what is in store for the Chinese economy as well?

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Greece: ‘To Euro or Not to Euro’ is Not the Question We Should be Asking

Euro and GreecePublished: 7 August 2015
Author: Jonathan Clyne

In the face of the brutal blackmail of the Troika, the Syriza government broke its anti-austerity promises. Much of the debate since then has focused on whether the government could have avoided this by leaving the Eurozone. It is a debate that risks tearing Syriza apart. Many on the left believe that leaving is a decisive step towards resolving the Greek crisis. Leading Keynesian economists of various shades, such as Krugman and Stiglitz, and many British conservatives agree. They are wrong. As are those on the Left that argue that Greece must stay in the Euro. If Syriza splits on this question, both parts will end up in a dead-end.

The left and the right in Syriza and internationally are ignoring the most important means for resolving the Greek crisis – raising the level of productive investment in the Greek economy. In the last weeks before the climb-down, former Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis outlined a plan to do precisely that. It has not been commented on since. That is the most tragic thing about the present discussion. Varoufakis?s plan ought to be at the centre of discussion about how to end the crisis, not only in Greece, but also throughout the capitalist world. Staying in or leaving the Euro is a secondary question.

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Greece: SYRIZA versus the Capitalist Institutions of the European Union – the First Defeat

To cut or to leavePublished: 25 July 2015
Author: Soteris Vlachos (Socialist Expression, Cyprus)

The Result of the Referendum
The five-month battle of SYRIZA inspired millions in Europe and the world. The NO result of the Referendum, in the middle of an actual banking coup and a near strangulation of the economy, was a crowning moment of this process. However, instead of this point being used as a springboard for even more decisive action by the leadership of SYRIZA, the very next day Syriza?s leader, Tsipras, laid down their arms. By openly stating that the purpose of the Referendum was to reach a better agreement rather than to leave the Eurozone, Tsipras opened the way for German Finance Minister Schäuble and the rest of the Eurogroup gang to impose on them an extremely degrading agreement. An agreement that provides even for the dismissal of the few workers that SYRIZA government had rehired and terminates of all legislation that had passed through parliament since SYRIZA was elected.

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Greece After the Referendum

EG-AE336_edp040_G_20150401142419Published: 11 July 2015
Author: Jonathan Clyne (Socialist Network Sweden)

?No? Vote a Major Victory
The widespread mobilisation expressed in the Greek referendum achieved with a single blow what months of negotiations without popular mobilisation had failed to do. It immediately caused a major split within the ruling classes of Europe. On one side, Italy and France are leading the compromisers. Donald Tusk has swayed wildly, but now seems to have fallen into line after pressure from the USA. On the other side, Germany leads a motley coalition of EU bureaucrats and politicians from Spain, Portugal, Ireland and some smaller Eastern European countries that have staked their careers on austerity. They and the self-righteous German leaders, who unlike most European countries have not practised much austerity at home, egged each other on into hysteria.

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Ignore the Troika?s Blackmail, Vote No to Austerity and Start Building a Democratic Socialist Greece

Vote No 2Published: 30 June 2015.
Author: Michael Roberts.
Intro by: TSN Editor.

 The following is the first of a two-part article in which Michael Roberts examines the brutal austerity measures that the IMF and the EU leaders are trying to impose on Greece, and points the way towards an alternative democratic socialist economic plan for Greece and Europe.

Syriza, the Troika and the ironies

The ?impossible triangle? for the Syriza government was 1) reversing austerity 2) staying the Eurozone; and 3) Syriza staying in power (see my post: ‘Syriza, the economists and the impossible triangle‘). The Troika prepared to break that triangle. What the Troika wanted was a Greek government carrying out a full programme of austerity (running a government budget surplus in the middle of a depression) and ?structural reforms? (ending labour rights, deregulating services and finance and privatising state assets). The previous Samaras government got bailout funds in return for such ?conditionalities?. When Syriza wanted to change those conditions, not only did the Troika not concede, it actually tried to impose even harsher ones on Syriza.

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Debate: What Way Forward For Greece?

Greek Debt editedPublished: April – June 2015
Authors: Jonathan Clyne, Themos Demetriou and Sotiris Vlachos
Intro by: TSN Editor

The crunch is now here for the Syriza-led Greek government and the debate over what they should do next is ranging far and wide. Below are some contributions to the debate from members of The Socialist Network alongside a contribution from marxist economist Michael Roberts.

 

 

 

Contributions Index:
+ ‘Syriza ? From Defensive Tactics to Offensive Strategy’ by Jonathan Clyne (Swedish Socialist Network)
+ Comment from Themos Demetriou (from Socialist Expression Cyprus)
+ ‘Understanding the present situation in Greece’ by Themos Demetriou
+ Jonathan?s response to Themos?s comment and article
+ Themos’s Reply
+ ‘Debt – The absolute defeat of the market economy’ by Sotiris Vlachos (Socialist Expression Cyprus)
+ ‘The Case Against a “Grexit?” – a follow up contribution by Sotiris Vlachos
+ ‘Syriza, the Troika and the ironies’ by Michael Roberts (thenextrecession.wordpress.com)
+ A Comment on Michael’s Article by Pat Byrne (TSN Editor)

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