Socialist Economist Dimitris Kazakis: Syriza Has No Plan B

Socialist Economist Dimitris Kazakis: Syriza Has No Plan B

Dimitris Kazakis (source: http://www.candianews.gr) Wednesday, 20 May 2015 00:00By Joshua Tartakovsky, Truthout | Interview We live in times when national sovereignty is being eroded in favor of global capital. Syriza plans to continue with austerity and has made no serious plan B. All actions taken so far reveal that Syriza intends to continue with the austerity program and in the summer Greece will probably sign a new contract of continued austerity. The question remains whether the people will rise against the loss of sovereignty. This interview was conducted on April 1, 2015, with Dimitris Kazakis, leader of the United Popular Front (E.PA.M). The party opposes austerity and was founded in 2011 by people who participated in anti-memorandum demonstrations in Greece. Kazakis is a socialist economist who worked in the private sector in the past. The interview has been amended and shortened. Joshua Tartakovsky: Do you think that the current government has some kind of plan B in mind or are they just trying their best? Dimitris Kazakis: I don’t think they even have a plan A. In the first week after the elections, they tried some general idea, like the European Convention on debt issues. The European Union rejected it so they [the Greek government] abandoned the whole idea. On the second level, they tried to negotiate some kind of elimination of debt, but nobody wanted it, and they did not want to go into a confrontation with the lenders, so they lost ground. Since the agreement of February 20, the Greek government abided by the rules of the loan agreement. The agreement of February 20 had contradictions in it. It...
A Bolivaran Tsipras? Syriza’s Call for German Reparation

A Bolivaran Tsipras? Syriza’s Call for German Reparation

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at the site where 200 Greek Communist partisans were executed by the Germans in Kaisariani. Photo: Reuters CounterPunchWEEKEND EDITION MARCH 20-22, 2015 A Bolivaran Tsipras? Syriza’s Call for German Reparations by JOSHUA TARTAKOWSKY Athens. Developments are happening faster than the speed of light both in Greece and around the world. It is not often that people are happy to be quickly proven wrong, but luckily the opportunity arrived. Following the Eurogroup agreement and the way it was presented to the public as an end of austerity and as a victory, indicated that the Syriza government is a captive to the Institutions. I expressed the possibility that unless public opposition mounts, Syriza will end up bending to pressure. Recent events, however, suggest that this is untrue. A public mobilization was not necessary, Germany’s humiliating dictates while the Greek public is suffering under the yoke of austerity have already turned the tide and the Syriza Government is resisting Germany’s patronizing and suffocating actions. As argued earlier, Syriza is pursuing a policy of uniting the nation by demanding justice. What goal may it have in mind? What caused this turn? and where may it lead to? In his speech to the Hellenic Parliament, Prime Minister Tsipras touched on the issue which both some Anglo-Saxon socialists and Conservative Germans would wish would have avoided. Tsipras brought to public view the issue of reparations of World War II, and the fact Germany did not pay back the interest-free forced loan made on the Greek bank by the German occupation forces until today. While some reparations were paid in the 1950s, these were quite small considering the...
SYRIZA: Uniting Greece and demanding justice

SYRIZA: Uniting Greece and demanding justice

Photo:  Alexis Tsipras By Joshua Tartakovsky What is one to make of the fact that SYRIZA, a progressive party with socialist values, formed a government with Independent Greeks (AN.EL), a populist right-wing party that opposed immigration and was accused of racism? Has it gone mad? Betrayed its initial promises? A short respite had barely passed since the announcement, that an outcry has emerged from the international left, mostly that based in the West. Whereas Venezuela and Cuba congratulated Alexis Tsipras in the friendliest terms, Marxists in Western countries have voiced their alarm at the fact that SYRIZA will not be forming an alliance with the orthodox Communist party KKE and bemoaning the fact that the Left will share a government with a right-wing party. While criticism from Greek voters of SYRIZA who would like to be ruled by a Left-wing government is understandable and justified, international progressives have committed a grave error by intervening in the autonomous decision of the newly elected party without giving it a chance to carry out what appears to be a well-calculated strategy, with a clear purpose and plan. The most central issue facing the newly elected Syriza party, that received 149 seats in a parliament of 300, is to renegotiate Greece’s immense and insurmountable debt and ensure sustainable growth while securing funds to provide electricity, health, and education to the Greek people. Ever since the neoliberal bailout enacted by the European Central Bank, EU and IMF (Troika) in 2010, real wages declined by 25%, pensions have been cut, suicides have numbered in the hundreds per year, and austerity demanded by the Troika prevailed...
Welcome to Havana/Bienvenido a La Habana

Welcome to Havana/Bienvenido a La Habana

Since I just came back from Cuba after living there for over 5 weeks, trying to summarize my words and experiences is not an easy task. The experience of being in Cuba is so intense, since it is so isolated, different from what we are accustomed to and was not a subject to the fluctuation of technological and capitalist time, that when one arrives in Cuba, one senses that he moved into a different zone of being where the Now is much longer and in that plane things have a long tradition behind them. Where as David Harvey describes in his The Condition of Postmodernity, that in New York for instance, capitalism resulted in a compression of time and space, so that due to the rapidness of ever-evolving technology, time passes by ever more quickly, in Cuba the opposite is true. Due to the lack of commercials, the absence of endless banks and hedge funds, skyscrapers and speedy transportation, time passes by slower, or at the very least one has the mental space to appreciate the present. As soon as one arrives in the José Martí International Airport, and actually well before, as one flies over the long island, one senses that he/she is entering into a different time zone, a different way of being. Once one enters, one finds himself in a different zone of reality. Everything is slow, there is no rush. The women working at the airport are wearing traditional uniform, tightly ironed and  appear as if they are uniforms from the 1970s, yet still preserved. People make an extra effort to make sure they appear...
Some Thoughts on Cuba

Some Thoughts on Cuba

Text and pictures by Joshua Tartakovsky  (c) All Rights Reserved 2014. Having just spent a month in Cuba where I stayed with a local family (note: religious purposes), I thought it is about time I will put my thought on paper on my experience of Cuba, impressions and insights. Considering the fact that the island is off-limits to many, whether due to legal restraints or to psychological fears or misconceptions, and due to the deep ideological manner in which Cuba is being portrayed both by the Left and the Right, will attempt to pass out my points in a non-ideological manner.       I lived in Brazil for an extended period in the past and the differences and similarities between Brazil and Cuba is worth pointing out. Brazil is vast and rich in resources while Cuba is tiny. Brazilians tend to be easy going, avoid conflict, in happy spirits and friendly, whereas Cubans are direct, have an attitude, say what is on their mind and are more pushy. However, it is precisely the directness I encountered which made the country appealing in a strange way. I appreciate honesty, and in Cuba you have to be tough and stand your ground since otherwise people who make $20 a month (the average salary) will rip you off. However, once you stand your ground and are firm yet genuine, you will earn the confidence of people, and you can make real friendships that will last. In other words, behind the hard surface you can meet many kind people who will help you in time of need, only that you need to...