Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ireland's Shame, Syriza's Climbdown

Ireland’s Shame, Syriza’s climbdown

Written for Irish Socialist Worker online at

To its great shame the Irish Government, and Finance Minister Michael Noonan in particular, have played a disgraceful role in lining up with the IMF and the EU institutions to inflict further suffering on the Greek people. Noonan joined forces with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble to intensify pressure on the Syriza government to abandon its commitments and impose even more austerity on its people.

The motives of the EU institutions, which represent the interests of European big business and banks, are clear. They want to punish and humiliate Greece to ensure that no alternative model to their neoliberalism and austerity can look credible. Noonan and the Irish Government share this goal because any example of successful defiance by Greece would expose their own shameful compliance with the Troika at the expense of their own people.

All this makes the climbdown of the Syriza government in the face of this pressure the more regrettable for Greek people, the Irish people and all the working people of Europe.

It is likely that Alexis Tsipras and Yanis Varoufakis will try to claim that the deal is a ‘fair compromise’. Unfortunately this does not fit the facts. There is nothing ‘fair’ about it. As Stathis Kouvelakis, a leading left wing figure in Syriza, has said:

"The list of the measures of the new austerity package proposed by the Syriza government is absolutely depressing. They amount to a total of €8 billion for the next two years (2.7 for 2015 and 5.2 for 2016) distributed in cuts and increase in taxes and social contributions.
The proposed increases in taxes include an rise of the VAT, an indirect "flat" tax hitting disproportionately low-income people, expected to bring 0.7 billion this year, and the double next year. A total of extra 1.8 billion is expected to come in the next two years from a pension "reform", via the restrictions in early retirement and the rise of the contributions of wage-earners for their pensions and their health coverage… The privatizations will go on as scheduled by the previous government with some minor changes in the procedure. ….Needless to say that all the "red lines" have been crossed and that very little is left of Syriza's programme….Needless also to say that a new 8 billion "purge" to a country that had already lost 25% of its GDP can only lead to further recession, poverty and unemployment.”

Sadly this climbdown by Syriza marks the culmination of 5 months of treating the EU institutions, not as enemies of working people, but as ‘friends’ and ‘partners’ in the belief that it would be possible either to charm, persuade or outwit them into cutting a reasonable deal. Unsurprisingly, and as Socialist Worker has warned from the outset, the EU vultures have simply seized on this weakness to press home their attack.

Even now it is clear that they will be not be satisfied and that having got their ‘pound of flesh’ they will ask for more. For them, as always with the 1%, the suffering of the people - the poverty, the unemployment, the evictions and homelessness, the suicides – are just ‘collateral damage’ in their war to defend their profits and their system.

This is why Kouvelakis asks, “Will this downward spiral stop before its too late?’ and says “It’s more than time for the social movements and the combative forces of the Left to wake up and fight!”.

Antarsya, the main organisation of the revolutionary left in Greece, supports this and is calling for a united front with the Syriza Left to launch an immediate  fight back, mobilising the Greek working people on the streets and in the workplaces.