Commentary from the Greek communists
The new Greek government continues its talks with the foreign lenders (EU,ECB,IMF), the well-known Troika, which has now been labeled the “three institutions”. The international mass media, as well as the government itself, are giving the impression that it seeks another kind of management of the crisis in Greece and that the “institutions” at the same time are exerting pressure on it. The government is constantly retreating and claims that it is “maneuvering” because, according to the words of the Prime minister, A. Tsipras, “They had set us a trap in the battle of Europe (…) with aim of the financial suffocation and the government’s overthrow(…)They had everything set up to shipwreck us … and the country.”
However, at the same time, the Finance Minister, Y. Varoufakis, clarified that the maneuvers and retreats of the Greek government also had some “red lines”, which the Greek government does not intend to cross. It is of interest to examine what these are:
According to the minister, the “red lines” are found in the solution of “three equations and three unknowns”. As he explained:
A primary surplus must be secured that “does not kill the private sector economy”,
In connection to the structure of the debt (what must be paid, to whom and when),
And this is also connected to the aim for there to be more investments than savings (i.e. capital should not lie stagnant but should be invested).
However, the above demonstrate that the only “red line” of the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition government is the support for the capitalist recovery. Because the three unknowns ”x”, which the government puts in the three equations, have a content:
In relation to the question of investments, it is telling us that without the creation of an environment for investments there will be no improvement. And there will be no investments unless there is a suitable terrain for the capitalists, i.e. there will be no investments if state money is not made available, if there are no tax breaks, if an investment environment is not created that requires more “beneficial” public private partnerships, if the “non-wage labour costs” are not reduced etc.
In the equation regarding the surplus the unknown “x” means, amongst other things, the promotion of measures (by the SYRIZA-ANEL government), which were described in the memoranda signed by the previous “rightwing” government and are related to the reduction of recruitment in local government, cuts in the annual funding for hospitals, the commitment made in the framework of the agreement with the “institutions” for new reductions in state spending on education, health, defense, the municipalities, social benefits, transport etc.
In the equation regarding the debt, the government demands that the people empty their pockets for a debt they are not responsible for.
At the same time, the government presents the following as being “patriotism”: its strengthening in order to promote these axes that do not mention the enormous losses of the popular strata in the crisis period and promise very few crumbs to relieve the extremely destitute, as was demonstrated by the draft law recently tabled by the government.
The government’s program says nothing about the average wage that has been reduced by 25% in recent years, the enormous tax increases, direct and indirect, which the workers are already paying for, about the serious wage and pension reductions, about the increase of living costs. The living standards of the popular strata fell almost 50% during the crisis period.
So, however the negotiation of the SYRIZA-ANEL government with the lenders develops, the program which will be implemented by the government will not lead to the recovery of the enormous losses the popular strata underwent in recent years.
The government’s negotiation is related to how the domestic ruling class will be financed. The reduction of the primary surplus, which is at the centre of the discussions, will be translated into new subsidies for capital, which will be labeled using the fashionable term “productive reconstruction”.
In contrast, the government has promoted the payment of taxes as being a patriotic task. These are the taxes that had been imposed on the workers and other popular strata by the previous governments. Of course the big shareholders of the monopoly groups, with 140 billion euros abroad, continue to remain outside the firing line. The ship-owners will continue to pay minimal taxes. The big industrialists in the name of the “reinforcement of the national economy’s competitiveness” are waiting for new subsidies from the SYRIZA-ANEL government. The result will be that the popular strata will once again shoulder the burden of the capitalist crisis and the return of the economy to capitalist growth.
The government’s “patriotism” is once again the strengthening of the ruling class in its war against the others. The poor people, whether they are with the victors or the losers in this war, will continue to suffer destitution, unemployment, poverty, the violation of their social rights.
A new agreement between the government and the “three institutions” is not a solution for the working people. The new agreement will continue the implementation of the anti-worker anti-people laws, which have already been passed, and will be supplemented with new ones, in line with the commitments made by the coalition government. The solution is not to be found in the negotiations with the EU and IMF (i.e. the USA), which are being conducted to allegedly “end austerity”, but in fact have to do with ensuring greater margins for the state funding of domestic capital, for the state to support the capitalist recovery.
The solution is to be found in empowering the struggle to recover what the workers have lost in recent years, to satisfy the needs of the people today. This is the “red line” for the workers, which requires conflict and rupture with the “partners”, the imperialist unions, like the EU and NATO, as well as with those that possess the real power and the means of production, with capital itself.