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John Passant

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July 2015



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Kevin Ovenden in Greece: latest updates on a back-breaking memorandum

Kevin Ovenden in Greece in the latest update posted here.

More later this afternoon, but three points this morning:

1) Alexis Tsipras has already conceded to a back-breaking new memorandum. What was still outstanding as the summit paused are reported to include

a) the German insistence that the IMF be involved in the third memorandum

b) a proposal by Wolfgang Schaeuble that up to 50 billion euro of Greek public assets be held by a fund set up in Luxemboug as collateral and earmarked for privatisation. Schaeuble just happens to be a director of German bank which would manage the fund.

The collapse of the Greek government’s already surrender position in the negotiations is abject. That is a fact, even if these measures are watered down or are being used as negotiating tokens.

It is a terrible political collapse even if the German-led axis over-reaches itself and Tsipras were to walk out today.

Although the IMF has taken a different line from the German government on the need for restructuring Greek debt in the future Angela Merkel wants the Fund involved.

The new ESM mechanism through which a “bailout” would be given to Greece (thence back into the European banking system) has more stringent rules than the previous incarnation. But still the European Commission lacks some vital legal powers to enforce certain of the neo-liberal “reforms” demanded in the memorandum.

The IMF has sweeping legal competence over any member of the Fund, such as Greece, which borrows from it. The “up to 50 billion euros” is a figure which can alter in negotiations. The principle is the seizure – or rather handing over – of Greek public assets. It may be achieved by other mechanisms.

Given the outstanding issue of German reparations to Greece from the Second World War occupation both these demands are self evidently a nationally explosive issue in Greece. So why push to remove “fiscal sovereignty” and insist on IMF officials, with their tax free stipends, transparently running things?

It is because the forces of European capital do not trust the Greek government to be able to drive through anything it signs up to in Brussels. One reason is the great Oxi revolt.

Another is that over the last five years, and despite inflicting immense hardship, successive governments – stronger ones than this – have not been able to do so either. Piraeus dockworkers have struck recently. They are adamant they will not be privatised.

Little noticed is that under previous memoranda they were already meant to be sold off. The same is true across swathes of the Greek public sector. As one public sector trade unionist told me last night during the “violent” negotiations in Brussels:

“The foreign media seem to think that if he [Tsipras] signs up to something and the parliament passes it then it’s going to happen. Quite simply – it is not. There will be an enormous battle.”

2) The executive of the ADEDY public sector union federation meets this afternoon. It is set to consider a call from the anti-capitalist left for a 24-hour strike against the new memorandum, whether agreed to by the government or imposed from without through a capital-enforced expulsion of Greece from the eurozone.

That is what a Grexit forced by the other side would mean. On the executive are:

2 members of the anti-capitalist coalition Antarsya; 2 from the KKE; 4 Syriza; 3 (or 4) Pasok; 2 ex-Pasok; 4 (or 3) New Democracy.

As you can see – it is finely balanced. The initiative for a 24 hour general strike in the public sector comes from Antarsya with the support of the Syriza trade unionists.

3) for those of you who follow keenly recent developments in the history of Marxist theoretical and strategic debates, a personal opinion:

I can’t help feeling that one early casualty of this new phase of crisis in Greece is the cottage industry that was developing over the last few years making a case that Lenin, Luxemburg, Levi and other revolutionaries of the early 20th century were really best understood as a hard left pole of Social Democracy rather than a break from it.

That’s certainly is not how that history – and the associated history of the German Revolution of 1918-23 – reads from where I am in Athens today


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