By Fred Goldstein
July 6, 4 p.m., EDT — By a vote of 61 percent to 39 percent, the Greek masses have given a resounding rebuff and political setback to the bankers of Europe, including the Greek ruling class.
The people used the referendum, called by the Syriza government on short notice, to tell the leadership of Alexis Tsipras to go back to Brussels and fight austerity. Whether Tsipras will do so or will make unwarranted concessions, as he has done in the past, remains to be seen. But the vote sent shock waves through the offices of the financial predators in Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels, Rome, Madrid, Lisbon, Amsterdam and elsewhere throughout Europe.
The extortionists of the Troika — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission — fear that the Greek spirit of “No” will spread to Spain, Portugal, Italy and beyond — to all the victimized populations who have suffered cruel austerity programs imposed by the very creditors defied in Sunday’s vote.
Whatever happens in future negotiations between the Syriza government and the European powers, the bankers fear that the genie of resistance is out of the bottle and they won’t be able to put it back in.
‘I would climb from my grave to vote no!’
There was massive collective sentiment to stand up against austerity, no matter the price. The New York Times of July 4 recorded the spirit down below:
“‘For those who want to vote yes Sunday, think about Greece’s dignity!’ shouted Mr. Smailis, a clothing shop owner whose business has been ravaged by the crisis. ‘We must reject this and fight our creditors for a just outcome. If I was dead, I would climb from my grave to vote no!’”
The arrogant threats, the economic sabotage and the open intervention in the Greek referendum by the euro bankers, including the Greek bankers, backfired. They completely underestimated the spirit of resistance in Greece. This behavior aroused in the people their history of resistance to the Turkish empire, to the British empire, to invasions by fascist Mussolini and Hitler’s Nazi armies and to the fascist Greek colonels.
The Troika declared economic warfare on Greece. Instead of army divisions, they sent debt collectors from Frankfurt and Brussels to subdue the working class and the mass of the people. And the masses stood up and answered “No! We cannot be compelled to bow down to
threats from Angela Merkel and the rest of the financial cutthroats.”
Mass resistance vs. parliamentary victory
It should be clear, however, that the victory in the referendum is only a parliamentary victory. In order to consolidate and advance the gains demanded by the “No” vote, mass action on the ground against the direct interests of the capitalist ruling class will be necessary. The enthusiasm and energy shown both at the polls and by the tens of thousands who turned out to rally for “No” must be converted and mobilized in the streets, the factories, the campuses, the neighborhoods, the communities and the countryside. Otherwise, the expected gains may not be realized at all — or worse.
At this writing, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken a hard line on future negotiations. Alexis Tsipras has met with the leaders of the Greek bourgeois parties to come to an agreement on proposals to bring to Brussels. These are the parties that brought austerity and economic ruin to Greece at the command of the Troika. Tsipras also fired his finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, as an open concession to the Troika.
This potentially dangerous development can only be countered by a militant anti-austerity mobilization. The referendum showed that the foundation for struggle is strong and the willingness to sacrifice is profound. The masses refused to be intimidated by the forced closing of the banks or by the endless threats of being set adrift economically outside of Europe, to sink into further suffering. Workers defied bosses who told them they would be fired unless they voted “Yes” to the Troika’s financial extortion.
The landslide victory for “No” came despite threats that medicine would be cut off; that gasoline deliveries would stop; that hardships far worse than the already existing austerity would face the population if they defied the creditors.
The overwhelming majority said, “Enough is enough!” They voted against the continuation of unemployment, which is at 20 percent, with youth unemployment at 50 percent. They voted against the poverty of 30 percent of the population; against further attacks on pensioners; against a 25 percent decline in the economy and thousands of bankruptcies and layoffs; and against the privatization of state assets handed over to the bankers and the oligarchs.
Now is the time for the left in Greece to expand the spirit of resistance underlying the Greek “No” to austerity, “No” to the financial oligarchy, “No” to capitalist exploiters. And the anti-austerity message must be spread far and wide, from Europe to Puerto Rico to Detroit.