In January 2015 there was dancing in the streets of Athens as a left-wing anti-austerity party, Syriza, a ‘coalition of the radical left’, made up of various left and Green groups, Eurocommunists and some Trotskyists, had just won the Greek elections. There was rejoicing too amongst like-minded people outside Greece. The fightback against austerity was to begin. Another policy was possible.
The new government was going to end in Greece the austerity that governments everywhere had been imposing in the slump that followed the Crash of 2008. It would do this, according to John Milios, billed as Syriza’s chief economist, by promoting growth ‘through a fiscal stimulus, targeted at lower incomes in order to boost their spending power’ (Guardian, 23 December 2014).
They never got the chance to try, not that this warmed-up Keynesianism would have worked. Holders of Greek government bonds, afraid of losing too much of their money, insisted, through a Troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF, that the new Greek government continue, and even increase, austerity.
Syriza called a referendum in July on the terms that they and the previous government had been offered. A 61 percent majority voted to reject them. As a ploy to strengthen their negotiating hand, it didn’t work. The bondholders still demanded their pound of flesh, and the Troika called Syriza’s bluff.
The government had a choice – between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. They could accept the terms or reject them and go it alone. Either way, they would have to continue the imposition of austerity as, if it wasn’t under direct Troika pressure, it would be under the indirect pressure of the world market. The government chose the first option on the grounds that it would allow them some wiggle room whereas the second would be an unpredictable adventure.
This wasn’t what leftists outside Greece wanted. In accordance with their fanciful view that workers can be bounced into ending capitalism, they urged the government to adopt ‘radical anti-capitalist’ measures and, in the face of any resistance, to ‘mobilise the masses.’ But a second general election in September, which returned Syriza to office, suggested that most of its voters accepted the government’s choice. The ‘masses’ were not for mobilising.
It’s a familiar pattern. A left-wing government promising to improve things for people is enthusiastically elected, comes up against capitalist reality that profits and conditions for profit-making must come first, then either changes its policy or continues and provokes an economic crisis and is voted out.
Syriza changed its policy and so avoided immediate eviction. Four years later, however, and with the Greek economy in a less parlous state, enough voters deserted it last month to elect an openly pro-capitalist party to run the country. The Syriza government turned out to be an interlude during which it served as a repair gang for Greek capitalism, stabilising its economic and political situation so that normal service could eventually be resumed. Yet another failure of reformism, to add to the long list. Messrs Corbyn and McDonnell take note.
Our aim is to persuade others to become socialist and act for themselves, organizing democratically and without leaders, to bring about the kind of society that we advocate.
We are solely concerned with building a movement of socialists for socialism. We are not a reformist party with a programme of policies to patch up capitalism.
What We Do
Our aim is to build a movement working towards a socialist society. We publish literature, we hold meetings and debates throughout the country, we write to the press and state our case wherever possible on the media. We run weekend educational conferences, we sell tapes and pamphlets, we hand out leaflets, we contest elections, and we discuss our ideas with people wherever we can.
We are unique
The Socialist Party has been unique in Britain throughout the twentieth century for:
- Consistently advocating world socialism – a fully democratic society based upon co-operation and production for use.
- Opposing every single war
- Opposing every single government
- Being a democratic and leaderless organization
The Next Step
The more of you who join the Socialist Party the more we will be able to get our ideas across, the more experiences we will be able to draw on and greater will be the new ideas for building the movement which you will be able to bring to us.
The Socialist Party is an organization of equals. There is no leader and there are no followers. So, if you are going to join we want you to be sure that you agree fully with what we stand for and that we are satisfied that you understand the case for socialism.
If you want to know more about the Socialist Party, its ideas and activities, please contact us.