FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Greeks, the Troika, Resistance and History

by

Capitalism is ultimately a cruel economic system. Its dependency on the exploitation of labor both in terms of the exploitation of surplus labor and in the alienation of the laborer from work itself is indicative of that cruelty. However, in my mind, it is the eventual necessity that capitalist nations become colonizers and imperialists that results in the cruelest of capitalism’s manifestations. Brutality, subjugation, cultural destruction and war; all of these are essential elements of the imperialist stage of capitalism. This is the world we live in. This is the world the Greek public has been fighting since 2009.

Recently, Zero Books published a book by Roger Silverman titled Defiance: Greece and Europe. It is a clearheaded look at the current debt crisis faced by Greece. It is also a warning of what many other nations and peoples could face the next time a bust comes around in the constant bust and boom cycle of modern day capitalism. Precise in his analysis, Silverman mostly refrains from using numbers and charts to explain the economics of the current crisis. Instead, he provides anecdotal instances of the pain caused by decisions from the so-called troika—the European Central Bank (ECB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the European Union (EU)—followed by systemic explanations of how and why such instances could and have occurred. Most importantly, however, are his descriptions of the resistance to the demands of the financiers. Included in these narratives are details about the individuals, parties and organizations organizing said resistance. One point he makes clear in his discussions of the development of the crisis is that bankers want eternal debt just like weapons manufacturers want eternal war. Speaking of which, just like in the United States, there always seems to be money for weaponry in Greece. Indeed, even as Syriza cut social welfare it concluded a half billion dollar deal with Lockheed to upgrade war planes for the Greek navy. 51liv3jx0xl-_sx322_bo1204203200_

Greece has a long history of being subjugated by outside powers. Most recently, those outside governments have included Great Britain and the United States. Under Britain, Greece was subject to a throne imposed on them from London. Under the US, that subjugation is slightly more subtle. It has included military bases, military aid, and risky loans, among other things. After World War Two, this subjugation began with the US and Britain brutally repressing the Greek resistance. For those who don’t know the story of this resistance, it was not only one of the most popular and strongest resistance forces in the war against the Nazis, it was also one of the most left in its political orientation. The result of its Marxist leanings was this: the liberal elements of the resistance ultimately teamed up with various monarchist and right wing elements and defeated the popular armed resistance with the assistance of the US and British military. Of course, the decision by Stalin’s government not to support the Greek Left helped ensure the dominance of the rightist elements. Ultimately, this would lead to a series of unstable governments and coups, including a particularly brutal reign by a junta that would be known as “The Regime of the Colonels.” This latter group was overthrown by a popular rebellion in 1974.

Defiance: Greece and Europe includes this history. Furthermore, it explains how this history helped create the current situation while simultaneously relating the current insurrectionary movements to the Greek history of popular resistance. In doing so, Silverman reminds the reader of the importance of history in the events of the present and future. Additionally, he makes the point that today’s rule by the financiers is potentially more brutal and possibly even more pervasive than that of the Colonels. Unfortunately, one gets the feeling that the possibility of overthrowing it is considerably more difficult. The latter part of the text describes the political and organizational wrangling between the groups opposed to the EU and its demands. As this narrative unfolds, it becomes clear that the street was (and is) considerably more radical than the parliament. When one considers the actions of Syriza in the wake of its electoral victories: rejecting than accepting the terms of the Troika, making military alliances with Israel, and rejecting the possibility of leaving the EU, the disparity between the street and the parliament becomes even clearer.
Silverman examine this but explains it away by telling the reader that Syriza and its allies had to compromise in order to survive to the next phase of the revolution. In stating this, he makes a comparison to the situation in 1917 Russia, writing that the Bolsheviks took a bold move because the crisis was so desperate. When they made that move, they called for international solidarity. Unfortunately, that solidarity failed to materialize on the scale necessary. Although the Greek situation is different, the analogy does have some relevance and contains some important cautions.

As we head into 2017, the world seems to be heading towards even greater uncertainty. The nationalist rejection of the EU in Britain, the uncertain meaning of the US election and future (at this writing) results, a seeming desire by western capitals and Russia for greater war in the Middle East, and various artificial bubbles created and maintained by the gamblers in the financial markets; all of these seem to point to more of the same for Greece with an ever growing likelihood that the next burst financial bubble will take down more than just those economies considered on the fringe of the central markets. This uncertainty alone is reason enough to read this book. Silverman’s writing is smooth and engaging; the section of the book telling the history of the Greek resistance and the overthrow of the Colonels is especially so. That it is also a useful history of modern Greece and a vital examination of an economic system built on busts and booms that reveal themselves in the suffering of the common people and the extravagance of the wealthy makes reading it even more worthwhile.

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail