Whither Greece?

Monday 2 July 2012, by Josep María Antentas

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Exploiting the deepest fears of a part of Greek society, the troika has overseen the formation of a new pro memorandum government. Despite having withstood the first onslaught, the troika, however, has done little to win time and can stabilize the situation only with difficulty. The breach opened in Greek society for the implementation of adjustment policies only widens every day and will hardly be closed in the short term. The crisis of legitimacy of the established regime is deep and the breakdown of the traditional party system is an irreversible fact.

The new government of Andoni Samaras, which has just suffered the resignation of the Finance Minister, officially for health reasons, will be a weak government formed by parties which are discredited and lacking in legitimacy. Although perhaps the troika will make some concessions to give a little oxygen, the new executive will be mandated inescapably to follow unpopular policies that will lead to new and important mobilizations.

Except for political and social stability, all scenarios are possible. Most likely, the socio-political situation will continue to grow tenser. Austerity will be accompanied by repression and authoritarian behaviour from the State, in a context of increasing social polarization and a predictable rise of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn and complicity with it in sectors of the state apparatus.

After more than two years of intense austerity policies, significant swathes of the population are living on the edge and the traditional mechanisms of family solidarity between generations are overwhelmed. The social deterioration is palpable, but Greek society does not feel defeated and demoralized. This is the key variable. There is fatigue, but also consciousness that the bulldozer of the memorandum is in some ways a giant with feet of clay, an opponent at the same time powerful and fragile.

For the social movements the countdown to defeat Samaras has begun. Social mobilization is not only the central element for blocking the advance of a new package of adjustment measures, but also the main strategic issue that will ensure that a possible future Syriza government can actually break with the troika and the interests of the local oligarchy. A “popular government with people in the street” has become the formula that best sums up the objectives of the forces opposed to the memorandum.

The formation led by Alexis Tsipras has been in a privileged position to spearhead opposition to the adjustment policies and present themselves as the only real alternative. This does not mean the road is without obstacles to assuming power in a future election. The leadership of Syriza would do well to remember that the key to its success so far has been appearing as a formation with an impeccable record of opposition to the memorandum. Any ambiguity in this area, any attempt to appear as a “responsible” opposition of "order” willing to compromise with the establishment would result in self-destruction and decomposition from below.

Like Chile in the 1970s, Greece is currently an experimental laboratory for finance capital in its plans to redesign society. We don’t have to look at the Hellenic country as if it were an isolated case. On the contrary, as the weakest link in the chain, the outcome of the Greek tragedy will mark the fate of the rest of the European periphery. A fate that is not written in advance and is being played out every day in the streets and the squares of a society subjected to the ferocious onslaught of the financial Minotaur.