Greeks choose democracy over bankers’ barbarism

syriza victory celebrations

VICTORY! we should take a leaf out of the Greek book and unflinchingly oppose austerity by all means at our disposal

by Ken Ferguson, editor, Scottish Socialist Voice Will the needs of people be able to prevail over the extortion of the bankers and moneylenders driving austerity and misery across Europe? This is the central question posed by the stunning victory of Syriza in Greece as the new government now faces the massed ranks of a neoliberal financial elite increasingly desperate to shore up its failed economic model which has seen a tiny minority impose misery across a continent as they grew bloated on bonuses and profits.

This is, of course, just the latest episode in a centuries old struggle between a democracy using its power to meet real needs such as education, healthcare and fair pay against the rich industrialists and bankers blocking their way.

The determination of that tiny elite has, in the past led to poverty, colonialism, war and, just 70 years ago, the horrors of fascism. For the last thirty years that same elite has been clawing back the gains made on the back of the Nazi defeat through anti union laws, privatisation, pay cuts and benefit sanctions all dressed up in the infamous Thatcherite maxim TINA—there is no alternative.

Indeed this policy has, in a variety of forms, been the bosses policy across not just Europe but in the US and much of the world.

Their task has been made the easier as supposed progressive parties from the US democrats to British Labour has broken with any pretence to be on the side of workers and cosied up to the needs of corporations demanding low taxes and bankers who wrecked the economy.

In the UK this reached its peak recently with Labour MPs voting with the Tories to set a cap on public spending. The Syriza victory blows away the TINA myth and poses instead the need to use the mandate of democracy both to curb the powerful financial elites and fashion policies such as ensuring food and electricity—to meet the reality of the needs of the majority.

This is the key point rather than the endless speculation about how hard the Germans will be, how much the IMF and ECB will give or whether or not Syriza is a “real” socialist party etc. We have even had one fanciful commentator comparing Syriza to the SNP!

For the left in Scotland, the UK, Europe and world wide the Greek result presents us with two key tasks, both urgent.

Firstly we need to give full support to the new Greek government in what will surely be a David and Goliath battle with an entrenched unelected European financial elite determined to doggedly defend its world of Davos summits, private jets and West End mansions.

The SSP has already begun this work with Colin Fox reporting back on the election to public meetings. Solidarity visits, resolutions from unions and the building of real links with those in struggle are all essential.

Secondly, here in Scotland, away perhaps from the headlines, but equally important we must step up the fight both against the cuts and to build the case for an alternative path away from austerity.

In the next few weeks local councils will meet to set budgets which will once again impose cuts on services and jobs which will further hit the most vulnerable and the fight against them needs to be redoubled.

Part of the solution can come by unions and community activists working together to fashion budgets which prioritise community needs and jobs and point an alternative to cuts. Related to this, the SSP has for some years demanded the end to the unfair council tax and its replacement by an income based Scottish Service Tax which would both ease the burden on the low paid, make the rich pay their fair share and generate massive new resources for vital services.

An updated version of the SST to be published shortly will provide another example of the real alternative that exists to austerity cuts and elite rule by the rich. The Greek result provides the first challenge to the unelected bankers in Brussels, Berlin and Frankfurt by a democratically elected government and as such is surely a potential game changer.

Others must follow their lead and step the battle to put people before profit. Given that both Tories and Labour are fully signed up to dance to the banker’s tune and 80 per cent of the cuts are still to come, this is a matter that grows more urgent daily and demands that we take a leaf out of the Greek book and unflinchingly oppose austerity by all means at our disposal.

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