Sunday, July 12, 2015

Requiem at an Empty 'Marxism;' Or, Leo Panitch's Momentous Dissimulation.

Leo Panitch has taken to the blogs to lambast Richard Seymour for his having suggested that the passage of the deal being debated right now by Syriza's negotiators and the Eurogroup would spell the end of Syriza as a party and a world historic defeat for the left.

Did Seymour even "bother to read the rather similar plans that Syriza put forward before the referendum," Panitch asks? He suggests, incredibly, that if anyone has capitulated - that is, "if there as a class crossover involved here" - it was that of the other greek partys, not Syriza and Tsipras! To present the current deal as capitulation, he argues, is to "disguise the significance" of the deal; he is aghast at "the immediate acceptance of this capitulation interpretation," and is disappointed at the absence of a more "sophisticated reading," he advocates, therefore, a "less quick rush to negative judgement."

Tsipras's "victory," he writes, requires "political sophistication to discern," because, he argues, it will necessarily need to be obscured "so that other European leaders can disguise this from their electorates"! Squint hard, Greeks! Squint harder than the Portuguese and the Irish, and the Spanish, indeed, harder than anyone even remotely familiar with political economy and what austerity looks like! Cross your eyes, you may not immediately see the victory in becoming an administered debt colony and having all your assets sold off, but Leo Panitch assures you it is there! It has to be buried under those crushing privatizations, you see, lest everyone else in the Eurozone scream 'me too!'

Bizarrely, this is all premised upon the idea that "significant debt restructuring and investment funds" will emerge from negotiations today "not effectively tied to further conditionality." One wonders what martian air Panitch is hyperventilating into, as 'further conditionality' has already been proposed, nay, demanded, by the Eurogroup. And, as if the deal itself weren't bad enough the additional conditions of the Eurogroup that Tsipras and Tsakalotos are busy capitulating to are terrifying: "significantly scaled up privatization program" with "improved governance," i.e. "a working group with the institutions" responsible for its "implementation mechanisms."

This intervention by Panitch is tired, unconvincing in the extreme, and yet predictable, insofar as he, and his variant of Milibando-Poulantzian 'Marxism' (if one could even call it that) are implicated. Panitch gave capitulatory advice to his students during the Cupe 3903 strike at York University recently and I suspect that, to the extent he has been listened to at all, he has given capitulatory advice to Syriza as well. Did he suggest that they prepare for this eventuality and begin a process whereby they would be able to requisition the banks and issue parallel liquidity? I doubt it. It is ironic in the extreme that Panitch should devote so much of his time to condescending to others about what will or won't amount to a really revolutionary politics, who is or is not "politically sophisticated," and at the same time bend over backwards to obscure the historic betrayal that Syriza is engaged in right now.

Leo Panitch is a keynote at the 'democracy rising' conference in Athens next week, I heartily recommend that those most adversely affected by this 'victory' 'celebrate' with him.

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