A different path to the "frugal life"
Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, it will not lead to a significant improvement of the position of the working class. The previous big "haircut" of sovereign debt in Greece (PSI) not only did not result in the economic relief of the people but it was accompanied by an escalation of anti-popular attack. This example helps make clear that a change in the management and the level of government debt does not automatically lead to any improvement of social policy or to an increase of popular income.
As long as the goal of increasing monopoly profit remains, the sacrifice of social needs and rights will continue. Protecting the competitiveness of capital and the recovery of losses of the workers at the same time are not compatible goals. Capitalist development runs counter to popular welfare, whichever management of sovereign debt is chosen.
No matter which example from the currently emblematic examples of expansionary management and monetary easing we choose, we’ll observe that the working class does not improve its position. In the US, the real weekly wage has not increased since 2000, while the food voucher program involved 46.5 million people trying to survive. In Japan, the real wage decreases continuously every month, compared to the 2013 level, while the Japanese economy entered a new recession.
There can be no capitalist development without an increase of the rate of exploitation, without cheap labor and new and highly profitable spheres for the monopolies.
Hence the corresponding unpopular directions and commitments to the protection of competitiveness apply to all the EU member states, whether they are heavily indebted or not. The fundamental commitments and the restructuring EU officials of the likes of Juncker, Katainen, Dijsselbloem, Merkel, Hollande and Renzo are essentially asking us to implement in Greece are not some kind of dogmatic obsession of the current German government; they constitute strategic directions.
Faced with this critical field for the future of the people, the government of SYRIZA-ANEL bows down and pledges to continue with restructuring. Already, and immediately after the formation of the government, Minister Dragasakis stressed the need to facilitate the attraction of investments, while Varoufakis clarified that the new government will not stop privatizations. It is no accident that during the change of guard at the Ministry of Finance, there was not a single mention of the future of the privatized DESFA [Natural Gas Administration], nor of the research competitions for hydrocarbons, nor of the control of OTE [National Telecommunications] by "Deutsche Telekom", nor of the 49% of the shares package fo DEH (National Electricity] which does not belong to the State. It was also made clear that the concession of the port infrastructures of Piraeus to [multinational] «Cosco» will proceed as before.
The dispute concerns only the forms of privatization (eg, sale or concession to the National Port Agency, partitioning or maintenance of a single National Electricity Company) or the maintenance within state control of agencies, such as ITSO, which guarantee the terms of competition of private producers of electricity within the framework of a "liberalized" market.
The situation is similar when it comes to the commitment to keeping balanced budgets and curtailing tax evasion. Given submission to big capital, taxation will be directed to the self-employed and to wage earners who are not yet in a condition of extreme poverty. The tools to be used in this direction will be the revised catalogue of real estate and a possible new definition of "large" real estate property. A possible forerunner to this is the opening of the case files of some major tax evaders to build up the necessary climate in public opinion.
Likewise, there is no commitment to restore the previous minimum retirement age limits, nor is there any commitment for the general restoration of pension losses. And certainly, there is not even a hint about eliminating corporate activity in health and education, which leads to the full commercialization of the basic rights of the people.
This is why Varoufakis explains that: "The Greeks were creative when they lived frugally, when they spent less than what they earned, when they used their savings to educate their children."
Who is he referring to? Certainly not the 559 major shareholders whose property exceeds 67 billion $, and who have invested more than 140 billion € in ventures abroad. He is referring to the majority of wage earners who are paid more than 800 euros per month, recommending "the frugal life" to anyone who wants their children to get an education, since plans don't provide even for the recovery of the 13th and 14th salary.
Finally, all negotiation scenarios operate under another basic assumption. That the people will repay, sooner or later, much of a sovereign debt from which they did not benefit, and for the creation of which they are not to blame. Because "we did not eat it together" [infamous statement of PASOK minister T. Pangalos], we the people and the monopoly groups, nor did "we" spend it in NATO armaments, nor did "we" profit from construction for the 2004 Olympics, nor did "we" profit from concession agreements, nor did "we" amass wealth from big capital's tax cuts.
Organize the popular counterattack
At this critical juncture, it is vital that the people do not align themselves with the banner of the bourgeoisie in negotiations aimed at ensuring greater state support for domestic monopoly groups. Do not accept the protection of the competitiveness of capital as a "national mission." It must be broadly understood that the return to the path of high capitalist growth is incompatible with the recovery of popular losses in the period of crisis; it will require further sacrifices of people's contemporary needs.
Without delay, with persistence and patience, we must strengthen the daily effort in every workplace, in every sector, to raise the militancy and the demands of workers. They must not accept that what they lost in the last few years is "gone and forgotten." The wage earners and the self-employed must not pay for whatever breadcrumbs capital "offers" to the extremely poor.
The promotion of radical struggle objectives such as full, stable employment for all, an exclusively public and free health and education, substantial increases in wages and pensions, a significant increase of the tax-free threshold to 40,000€ for the lower-class families, help decisively in this direction, along with initiatives for the immediate relief of the people.
Today, we have the conditions and experience the people need to avoid being trapped in a struggle between the imperialist centers, in the antagonisms of monopoly groups: so that they avoid having to choose among those who are negotiating the new terms of their slaughter; so that they dismiss them all and give strength to the Communist Party of Greece.
Let us organize the counterattack, for the promising alternative of the socialization of monopolies, the immediate exodus of the country from the EU and NATO, with the people at the helm of power.
*Makis Papadopoulos is a member of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in charge of the Ideological Committee and of the Department of Finance of the Central Committee.
Text translated by: Demetrios X
Translation editing: Lenin Reloaded
Text translated by: Demetrios X
Translation editing: Lenin Reloaded