The Greek Crisis by Norman Markowitz


An important referendum is taking place today in Greece.  Elections, we should remember are mobilization exercises, a means in a democratic process, not  the end.  If the Greek people vote yes to accept the EU austerity demands, it will be hailed as a victory for "reason " in the mass media of the capitalist world and will be a source of relief in corporate boardrooms everywhere.  If they vote no, it will up the ante of struggle, and lead to new forms of intimidation by the EU, to  which the Greek people and their allies among labor and peoples movement will  respond with militant resistance

Below I have cut and pasted two useful articles and links on referendum and the larger issues.  The first, by Bob Naiman,  makes the important point that Bernie Sanders and  the Progressive Caucus in the Democratic party have weighed in the side of the Greek people in this struggle, even though virtually everyone else, including Hillary Clinton, not to mention the Republicans, have kept their   mouths shut.  The second by John Case, even with some over the top agitational rhetoric, is a valuable treatment of the events as they effect American workers.  It also contains a really insightful article by Gary Bono from the  Peoples World , on the events in question.

Today there is an ongoing debate about the nature of imperialism in the 21st century, a time where the 19th century rhetoric of "free trade" and expanding world markets as the road to "civilization and progess" plus the 20th century rhetoric of "human rights and democracy" has returned with a vengeance.  At the end of the 19th century the very term "imperialism" was coined to explain what was happening, namely a change from the old colonial empires and their rivalries over territories and captive markets of the past.  At the end of the 20th century, the term "globalization" was coined in the post Soviet era

Has there been a fundamental change in the broad outline that Lenin described in  Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism.  I remain unconvinced myself, but I am ready to entertain the notion which John Bellamy Foster has raised in a recent article in Monthly Review

In Greece though the rhetoric about the European Union producing both stability and prosperity for all of its members, avoiding economic crisis  while raising the living standards of the poorer countries and creating a foundation for a united Europe has been shown to be a cruel joke, another example of both the complete failure of austerity economics and the absurdity of the "trickle down theory" of prosperity wherever it is applied.  Hopefully, the Greek people will have the good sense and courage to defend their class interests today with a no vote and all of us will have the courage and good sense to support them with all of our efforts

Norman Markowitz






ear norman markowitz,

Greeks will be voting in a referendum Sunday on whether to accept even more austerity demands from the International Monetary Fund – austerity demands that even the IMF admits won’t solve the Greek economic crisis. More than anything, Greece needs debt relief and economic growth, which the IMF plan won’t allow.   

It’s important for Americans who care about what the IMF is doing to Greece to know who in Congress is standing up for Greece against IMF austerity.   

Keith Ellison. Raul Grijalva. Jan Schakowsky. Alan Grayson. John Lewis. Rosa DeLauro. Jerrold Nadler. John Conyers. Hank Johnson.     

But most of all, Bernie Sanders, who not only signed the Congressional letter, but made his own statement to the press “blasting” the IMF, as the Huffington Post reported.    
For this day on which we celebrate our independence from foreign domination, I wrote a piece celebrating Bernie Sanders’ leadership against what IMF is doing to Greece.

Can you help spread the news by reading and sharing my piece?   

Thanks for all you do to help make U.S. foreign policy more just,

Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy

shot of the item below:

The Meaning of Greece for American Workers




Imagine yourself back in 2007 when the biggest financial crisis in 80 years, descended on American working people's homes with a hurricane force. Home equity was wiped out for many. Millions lost jobs. Retirement funds were destroyed. Lending dried up completely for anyone except millionaires. Small businesses and large, if they were not "bailed out", went under. Long-term unemployment extension battles raged in Congress. Most have still not regained their previous incomes. Grown children moved back into the house. Debts went unpaid. Foreclosures boomed. Cupboards and refrigerators were bare. Violence and inequalities grew together....


Now, double or triple all that harm and damage -- and you have the condition of the Greek people, or at least its working class. European Union bankers and their friends -- creditors to Greece -- now say: "We will 'bail you out'  with some more loans you won't ever be able to repay. But only if you kneel and double down on the misery, so you don't ever forget to pay your debts again. Oh -- don't worry, you will be better off in the long run."  Long after we are all dead, that is.



James Galbraith is a progressive American economist and a close friend and economic policy advisor to the Greek Syriza party - the leftward leadership of  Greece elected to resist and oppose further austerity on the Greek people. He published a cogent refutation this week of the slanders and misinformation leveled against Syriza and Greece by its adversaries -- the vultures of austerity. The propaganda characterizing Syriza as laughable and "incompetent" is flowing like a river from the financial citadels of the European Union, the IMF (to a lesser degree), and the whole universe of austerity-loving billionaires and their putrid retinue of ideological jackals -- including the entire US Republican presidential field -- are joining in. Starving a whole nation, turning one of the world's oldest civilizations into a failed state, is trivial to the banking class compared with defaulting on the loans they issued -- by the way without any "due diligence" at all.


On Sunday a national referendum to vote "yes", accept the EU bailout terms, or "no", reject the EU bailout terms will take place. Gary Bono has an excellent review of the build up to the referendum. To add additional pressure and terror before the vote EU banks have dried up liquidity (cash) for Greek banks, creating panic. There is now a run on the banks as people try and protect their savings.


The usual "super-patriotic" suspects among the rich, and their hangers on among the doctoring and lawyering classes are desperately trying to leave their country with their money. Faux critics of austerity, like the  ones that threw the big party that got the country into its current mess say "yes". The outright fascists -- called Golden Dawn -- say "no". Unlike Syriza, and most Greeks, they do want to leave the EU, and the Euro, return to a near worthless drachma,  and abolish democracy and unions under the pretext of terrorizing immigrants. The Greek Communist Party, a declining but still significant force in Greek politics says neither yes nor no! Maybe that means "don't vote". Even from afar, that seems like a feet-planted-in-mid-air position, or maybe head-up-your-behind position.


EU bankers and their "political shop stewards", Angela Merkel of Germany, Hollande of France, Cameron of UK are aggressively, openly and covertly, intervening to  assert a "No" vote means Greece will leave both the Euro (EU common currency) and the European Union. But Syriza has repeatedly said Greece will NOT leave either the Euro or the EU regardless of the vote. 


The IMF and EU creditors say they have been "flexible and generous". Christine LaGarde herself, Managing Director of the IMF, called the EU creditor demands "impossible to meet". However, since the IMF's stance on Greece omits any movement on taxes, wages, pensions or collective bargaining rights ("cut them all"), one wonders what she really means.  And, of course, not a word, please, about the reckless EU lending practices to the previous right wing Greek government, and their own obligations to write off a substantial part of the Greek debt.


Syriza is strongly recommending a "no" to unsustainable austerity. All the enemies on the Right in Greece, and among phony liberals -- and some phony socialists -- all over Europe are caving and showing their true class colors and lining up behind the austerians. I don't know how the vote will turn out. The pressures on Greek working families are immense. The bargaining position of the Greek leadership is the most complex and difficult I can imagine. Its majority is thin. None of the options are easy or certain. If the people vote "no", butrefuse to leave the EU, from which they cannot be legally expelled, that probably gives them the best long term leverage to compel better terms from the EU, although any success will require a sustained and disciplined struggle. One thing seems certain to me: If you go to the banking class with your hat in your hand, they will fill it with excrement before forgiving a debt. On the other hand -- if you can threaten their money,or in Chuck Colson terms, "have them by the testicles", then their laughing and sneering will become decidedly more respectful. Who knows? Their hearts and minds may then follow!



The US is not in the same shape as Greece, and our politics are far different. Unlike Greece our economy received about 30% of the bailout needed. Plus we can print our own money, giving us lots more flexibility. But here, like there, the issue is also austerity.Regressive taxation (i.e. tax the workers, not the rich), wage-cutting, exporting jobs, killing unions and the very right to collectively bargain, cutting unemployment, health care, education, affordable housing, and  infrastructure --- accelerating inequality and the racist, sexist, discriminatory reactionary consequences for fairness and democracy. Can’t you just SEE the Koch Bros chortling in their joy to see everyone scrambling for crumbs while they rake it in. We see all the components of the austerity ripoff and robbery here.  


The utter depravity of the EU financial elite's refusal to back off claims for economic growth from "kick the working class in the ass" policies, despite abundant evidence that such positions are  frauds,  shows that that these people cannot be reformed by reason and evidence. Indeed, they must be isolated and defeated and removed from power in every social and political arena  If we don't get that done -- "failed-state-ism" -- with all the terrors that implies will spread worldwide and put a knife in the back of democracy and progress:  for ourselves, and for the Greeks.


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  • Perhaps the most astonishing thing about our materialism is that it does not depend on human will.
    However, if civil war breaks out in Greece, over Grecian homelessness, hunger and joblessness, in the ensuing battle, we would have to choose the millions and millions struggling for jobs, peace and justice, for the loosening of the seems of the imperialist I M F, the E U's economic order and its austerity. This may or may not prevent WWIII, but the alternative of submitting to the imperialist powers will certainly bring WWIII, and its perhaps even more devastating problems for humankind in the cataclysmic, impending elegy of climate change.
    Climate change, independent of human will, along with billions and billions of people on planet earth were not factors in the pre-WWII era.
    Today's relatively smaller and more inter-related economics, and perhaps more importantly, the ecology of our planet necessitates unifying action for freedom from the traditional economic paths of imperialism supplied by the Euro, the EU and NATO-or even the U. S. dollar, for that matter.
    Exactly what these economic paths for change are, nobody knows- but necessity, the mother of invention.
    However, science, from Negro and ancient Egypt (from which early Grecian science learned its lot), to harness earth, wind, water, fire, to the labor of the world's billions, to the modern dialectics and science of the Communists like Robert Hodes and Erwin and Doris Marquit, go far to give us the paths to progress, change and sustainability.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 07/27/2015 5:05pm (9 years ago)

  • Henry, the Greek party wants to end austerity and exit the Euro, the EU and NATO (an imperialist military alliance).
    SYRIZA wants to end austerity by staying with the Euro, the EU and it will remain in NATO.
    The first program is improbable and the second program is impossible.
    It appears the choice is between an improbability and an impossibility.
    The Greek situation is very fluid and in these conditions radical qualitative changes can literally happen overnight. I think it's too complex to predict the outcome. The tactics of the 1930s did not prevent WW2.
    I hope we have learned something after 80 years but I don't what it is.

    Posted by Thomas Riggins, 07/24/2015 8:12am (9 years ago)

  • Henry. My earlier response to you was not posted. The Greek party's conflicts with the SYRIZA govenment I believe harm both and also the Greek people. Greece has a large and strong left, is a poor country whom the EU treats as a wastrel step-child. There is a middle ground between uncritical support for SYRIZA and reflexive opposition to it. A revival in Greece and internationally of People's Fronts against the Eu/IMF/World Bank in the tradition of the anti-fascist people's fronts of the 1930s is the best policy for Communist to advance everywhere
    Norman Markowitz

    Posted by Norman markowitz, 07/19/2015 10:41am (9 years ago)

  • This, Henry is yet another example of the destructive effects of factionalism. The Greek party opposed Syriza, which is a diverse formation of the left, refused to join it and in the process weakened itself and Syriza

    Given the existence of the Neo Nazi Golden Dawn in Greece there is a real danger to the Greek people and to Europe generally in these developments

    This is a much more dangerous situation than let us say elements in our left and the CPUSA reflexively and uncritically supporting any Democrat to fight against the ultra right,the flip side of the Greek CPs course.
    Syriza is not Hillary Clinton and the situations and options available to the Greek and U. S. working classes are very different.
    Unity at any cost is dead end opprtunism. Leftist opposition to a legitimate progressive forces is dead end sectarianism.
    The Greek party's position today is remiscient of the Trotsyist opposition to Communist participation in popular front governments and movements. It is also potntially similar to the German Communist party's left United front from below policy which led them to fight Social Democrats and refuse to support any anti- Nazi coalition and policy short of their maximum position before Hitler came to power
    Norman Markowitz

    Posted by Norman markowitz, 07/15/2015 11:31am (9 years ago)

  • What are we to make of the Greek CP's denunciation of Syriza, especially in light of Syriza's move to accept some austerity measures?

    Posted by Henry Millstein, 07/12/2015 11:41pm (9 years ago)

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