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Emeritus Professor Frank Stilwell on the historic Greek referendum result rejecting harsher austerity economics

We speak with emeritus professor Frank Stilwell of Sydney University on the historic Greek referendum rejecting harsher austerity economics.  Professor Stilwell was previously a colleague at Sydney University of the (now previous) Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.

Following is some editorial comment on the Greek situation from Perth Indymedia presenter Alex Whisson…

“There’s literally thousands of words one could write on the Greek crisis. This is a moment of true historical importance, one that demands deep and thoroughgoing analysis. Three brief interconnected thoughts for now however.

1) It’s painfully clear, as it has been for some time now, that Alexis Tsipras has no plan B beyond ‘boxing clever’ around the negotiating table. He now intends to use the “No” result as leverage to secure what he thinks will be a better deal from the troika, not as a jumping off point for a so-called rupture from the Eurozone and a total renunciation of all sovereign debt, a strategy advocated by Stathis Kouvelakis and other leaders of Syriza’s Left Platform.

2) Because the banks have not been nationalised, because there is no talk of issuing a new currency, and because capital controls were implemented very, very late in the piece, the Greek financial system is now on the brink of total collapse. As I write this, the Greek banks are down to their last few hundred million euros in hard currency. If they haven’t run out of money already, they will within the next 24 to 48 hours save for an emergency injection of funds by the European Central Bank. Without money in the banking system, all imports will be frozen, and wages, pensions and allowances cannot be paid. Given these dire circumstances, it doesn’t take a political genius to recognise European capital will continue to hold the whip hand in any so-called negotiations that might result in this post-referendum environment.

3) I’m struck by the foolishness of anyone who thinks now is the time to celebrate, or let us say overly-celebrate. Yes of course at one level the referendum result is a magnificent victory, a breathtaking moment of defiance against 30 years of capitalist onslaught (ie. neo-liberalism), a moment that the left across the world can rightfully embrace and reflect on. But reflect in haste comrades! Reflect in haste, for this historical moment is also one of great danger. European and world capital remains on the offensive, remains determined to crush the green shoots of resistance rising from underneath the feet of those proud warriors of Syntagma Square. It was the 18th century French revolutionary Saint-Simon who said, “He who carries out half a revolution succeeds only in digging his own grave.” The situation we have in Greece is not yet even a quarter of a revolution. It’s very important we keep things in perspective in that respect. We have a long, long way to go before socialist revolution in southeastern Europe, or anywhere else for that matter, becomes a truly realistic prospect. However make no mistake. The ruling classes will be watching Greece as closely as our side. They will try to learn lessons from it as we will, and despite the broken nature of their system – have a look at the current state of the Chinese markets for yet further proof of that – their resolve to destroy any human alternative to future barbarism remains as strong as ever. In fact, getting back specifically to Greece, there is now every chance of a coup d’état, be it in the technocratic or outright military form. It is apposite to remind comrades that it was only 40 years ago Greece had a military dictatorship, only 40 years ago that tanks rolled onto Greek campuses and murdered Greek students. Speaking of murder, let us also not forget the thousands upon thousands of Greek people who will die this winter for lack of heating if this crisis continues, the thousands upon thousands of Greek brothers and sisters who will be thrown into the streets if this crisis continues. This is life and death. The Greek battle will determine the short term, if not the medium term prospects of the war to come. All power to the Greek people and the international working class!”

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