“abandoned in northern Mesopotamia, without supplies other than what they could obtain by force or diplomacy, the 10,000 had to fight their way northwards through Corduen and Armenia, making ad hoc decisions about their leadership, tactics, provender and destiny, while the King’s army and hostile natives barred their way and attacked their flanks.”
Whatever good or bad we may say about the Greeks, their recent struggle to regain their own country, their independence, is much more impressive than the attempted coup of Cyrus the Younger, which started the original Anabasis. Since 2008, Greek society was struggling with the consequences of their own vices, their greedy oligarchy, their rotten political class and the international banksters, marauding left and right.
Until 2013 they developed vast network of solidarity economy, effectively becoming a parallel one, replacing both state and capitalist economy wherever they failed to fulfill needs of the people. With the raising hopes for Syriza-created government, much of this momentum was lost. The energy was redirected to support Syriza in its ice-breaking mission, which culminated last winter and recently failed.
Almost half-year long struggle did not bring victory. Greece neither pushed through the general change of European financial system, nor broke free from the debt slavery — with or without Grexit. The only gain from this process is that the real face of German and international financial institutions has been shown to the world. Most of masks got discarded — democratic values, European solidarity, every shred of decency, still supposedly kept between business entities — everything trashed publicly and for good. Raw power of money sends us a message: no delusions. Now we all know what to expect. The Greeks bought us this knowledge. And they paid for it dearly.
The Learning Situation
The basic assumption was that both sides of the negotiation table shared the same set of values and goals. They did — until last elections. As I wrote in my earlier articles, Europe needs Greece as a terrifying example, as a sick man of Europe, always sick, but not dying. Eternal memento for all potential troublemakers and convenient target for exploitation. An illusion of partnership was held as long as the Greek politics were obedient. Syriza tried to change it — and it found its limits pretty damn quickly.
There is no partnership. There is war. And the worst kind of war it was, when the invaded side did not even know it. Hopefully, the “learning situation” Greece experiences now, will change the collective thinking. The “Tsipras Campaign” failed just because the Greeks did not know it is war. They weren’t really prepared for crossing all lines of diplomacy, democracy and decency. They expected good will and gentleman’s approach from the global casino and its thugs. That is why they failed this time.
But, as it was 2500 years ago, this is not the end of the story. The defeat, painful as it is, is not final. The lesson, hopefully learned, gives hope for another round. If we all learn it.
What happened, actually?
The whole Program of Thessaloníki was built upon the idea that “the Institutions” want Greece out of the debt trap and they want the Greeks out of poverty trap. As a left-wing entity, Syriza could not sacrifice the weak, the vulnerable and the already suffering, to have the debt sorted out. It would not work, anyway; not in the way Troika imposed. So the plan was to develop a two stage strategy: quick relief for the society, to make them more motivated. And then, reforming the economy so it kick-starts and digs itself out of depression. With well-known precedents (like the 1953 London Conference) and some slightly optimistic projections it could be negotiated into practice. Except, it could not.
Because thugs and bullies are what they not just for money (substantial money, if we are at that). They are what they are, because they love it. They love bullying people. They love feeling their power to humiliate, to destroy, to impoverish. Whether the victim is a class four-eye or a society of 10 million people, the fun is the same, only bigger.
Putting aside its swashbuckling style, Syriza negotiation team was honestly trying to bring relief to their people. And that made them vulnerable. They could not allow the Greeks get financially chocked to death. At the same time, they weren’t ready (or maybe weren’t really invited to) to cross the line and leave Eurozone, entering the orbit of Russia or China. Be it due to their ethics or political calculations, they weren’t even closely as ruthless a their adversaries. So they failed.
The Greek society en masse has its own part of responsibility in this defeat. There is no bliss in the ignorance, when you send people — even politicians — to fight for you. You cannot pretend that they are the only ones responsible for the result. Especially if you expect quick results.
During the total war, there is no safe area. When the choke was applied, economy was unprepared. There was no alternative plan for the situation when there is no Euro banknotes in the ATM, or when the bank is closed. When there is no import possible, other than in exchange for hard cash. So, the choke worked — and the rebellion failed. Despite the “war cabinet” created by Yanis Varoufakis, who planned for the worst scenario, but was unable to take measures, due to the position of the rest of government.
Now, after a half-year struggle, Greece is basically in the same situation as before — only (hopefully) wiser.
Groundwork for Victory
The only way to victory is to make it the goal for everyone. It is not just for politicians. It is for all of us. The goal is to turn the society and economy into truly resilient system. If it happens, any attempt to choke or destabilize it will be dealt with swiftly, causing only minor inconvenience.
The parliament and government have their duties. They should be watched and pushed towards the reforms they promised. But the real power — and responsibility — lays with the people. The people alone are able to change the game, with or without the government. If the government is reasonable, it will not be interfering, at least.
Greece is in very comfortable situation, which can be summarized as follows:
- Favorable natural conditions mean that most basic agricultural products can be grown locally. The same applies to electricity (especially solar- and wind-generated).
- The major industry, which is tourism, is a source of massive export income, which can be expanded largely without large investments.
- There is a huge need for new technologies, which can be acquired — and further developed — by the use of open source model.
- There is a big Greek diaspora, which — if some viable project is presented — may provide substantial support in the form of crowdfunding, but also in various types of solidarity actions.
- The struggle of Greece triggered quite a lot of solidarity abroad. Various political groups, for various reasons, support the idea of breaking the debt trap.
There is a huge opportunity to build a network of cooperation, below the government level, to support the solidarity economy of Greece. There is a huge chance to change the economy into more resilient, more sustainable, generating trade surplus rather than deficit. It can only be done if the society assumes active attitude. There is no time to wait until the politicians and capitalists do the job (actually, they would not anyway). Now, it is the time for the March of the Ten Million.