Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials, 8 July 2015

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
8 July 2015

So, despite the polls predicting that the outcome of the Greek referendum would be tight, voters stood their ground. Once again, just as in January, when they propelled the Syriza party into office, they voted against austerity - by almost 2 to 1.

Yet ever since this referendum was announced, Greek voters had been bombarded with doomsday threats by the rich countries' governments and the media. If the "no" vote won, they were told, Greece would be forced out of the eurozone - and, presumably, out of the EU - and the country would face immediate economic collapse.

But the Greek voters did not fall for this attempted blackmail. "Enough is enough", they said. After years of austerity they do not want more of the same. And they let it be known, in no uncertain terms.

Rich governments' worries

However, judging from the frenzy of meetings organised at short notice in all EU capitals, including in London, Sunday's "no" victory certainly caused a shock in European governmental circles.

Of course, what worries these governments has nothing to do with Osborne's sanctimonious advice to British tourists going to Greece - that they should take plenty of euros with them, for fear of being unable to draw more than €60 per day from ATMs.

Never mind that this is a red-herring since foreign-issued credit cards are not affected - and even if they were, €60 is hardly a pittance in the eyes of Greek workers - being equivalent to twice their daily minimum wage!

In fact Osborne was trying to divert attention from the real issues. Like all European politicians, he was horrified by the fact that the Greek government should have organised a referendum over the austerity measures that the EU/IMF were trying to impose on the Greek population.

Because the Camerons and Osbornes of this world would never dream of allowing the working class majority of the population to have a say over measures which directly affect living conditions - no matter how dramatically. Osborne won't put the £12bn in welfare cuts of this Wednesday's "emergency budget" to a referendum, will he?

This is where the real issue lies for the rich governments of Europe. They fear that this referendum result has reinforced the majority of ordinary Greek people, devastated by austerity, who chose to stand up against the bankers and their diktats. What if this resistance against austerity is contagious? What if workers in other countries whose situations are comparable - like Spain or Portugal - or even, in richer countries, like Britain and France, where austerity policies have hurt large sections of workers, follow the lead of the Greek population?

The beginning of a battle?

Of course, the "no" victory was only a moral victory. It could not and does not, in and of itself, change the relationship of forces between the Greek working class and big finance. But this is the crux of the matter.

Despite the media's ridiculous claim that a "no" vote was a vote against Europe and more or less implied Greece's expulsion, the EU/IMF will resume the negotiations. The EU doesn't want Greece to leave, because it fears the consequences. And both the EU and IMF are determined to ensure that the international banks they represent are paid back every last penny, come what may.

This world is ruled by finance capital. The capitalist classes have become parasites, feeding off society, either as the shareholders of companies which exploit human labour, or as lenders, through their banks, which strangle whole countries as much as they do individuals, with Wonga-type spiralling indebtedness. And, as far the rich countries' governments are concerned, there is no question of allowing a precedent whereby the population of a country like Greece should dictate anything to big finance. For them, whatever happens, the last word must remain with the capitalists.

So far, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has defended the dignity of the Greek population against the diktats of the bankers, but he does not represent the interests of the Greek working class - nor has he ever claimed to. In the coming period, the Greek workers will need to watch closely the steps taken by the Syriza government, if they are to protect their collective interests - whether it be their wages, pensions or, more generally, their living conditions.

Ultimately, the future of the working class in Greece cannot depend on Tsipras. Just like here, in Britain, it can only depend on the working class itself, using its collective strength to counter the attacks of the capitalists and their system.