OPINION: Why Oxi means so much more than No

liamby Liam McLaughlan

The Greek people have delivered a resounding, brave, collective No to austerity and the lack of democracy and accountability that surrounds both European and world capitalist institutions. A momentous night in the history of Europe and one that inspires the left across Europe and the world. It, however marks only the beginning of the last chapter in the long struggle between Syriza & the Greek people with the aforementioned institutions of the Troika of the IMF, the ECB and the EU commission (the Troika). What happens next will decide the future of the Euro project and mark a defining moment in the international approach to the end of policy mandated on cuts.

The capitalist institutions of the Troika have as of yet showed not only a disregard, but a complete contempt for the democracy of the Greek people in electing Syriza as their government back in January 25th of this year, openly talking about regime change in Athens, brought about not in the traditional sense of military might but of financial blackmail and terror and they won’t now simply roll over in the face of a resounding OXI from the Greek people. The coming days will see how far they are willing to go to impose a set of ideologically driven, economically illiterate proposal of a cuts-driven European economy and will ultimately decide how a large proportion of the left views the viability of its current mainstream position in the debate over EU membership in the face of the withdrawal narrative of the right in promoting xenophobia, attacking worker and human rights and of national sovereignty in the upcoming EU in/out referendum of 2017.

If the capitalist institutions which as present the EU is and has been moulded to be so refuse to accept both the mandate of the Syriza government and of the referendum, the position of staying in to reform Europe into a people’s Europe based on the progressive advancements like freedom of movement and of workers’ rights becomes in my opinion untenable. For those of us (see the SSP’s pamphlet on Ukip, Europe and Immigration: A Socialist Perspective) who want to see and build a federal Europe which benefits the majority of the people of Europe, the time may come where we realise the EU as an institution is incapable of becoming what we so desire. This vote also brings about questions relating to the independence movement in Scotland and our relationship with Europe, with capitalism as a whole and of a currency union, the pitfalls of such an arrangement laid bare for all to see as the Greeks have no control over the re-balancing/restructuring of a battered and failing economy which has been slashed beyond recognition by the forces of planned poverty and neoliberalism.

For now, we have a momentous result to celebrate and to learn from. The Greek people have stood up to the forces of reaction and fear among the threat of Euro withdrawal, default and capital controls; for that we in Scotland can only admire and show our solidarity from afar. For the left in Scotland it gives us great joy, inspiration and a sense of togetherness across national and economic boundaries with our European comrades that only strengthens our desire for the kind of Europe we want to see; a Europe based on the politics of hope and internationalism with an economy centred around the needs of the majority of the peoples of Europe.

If Scotland had shown the same conviction and bravery as the Greeks, we wouldn’t be staring down the barrel of the first Tory-majority budget since the year I was brought into this world in 1996. What we can learn is that a mandate of opposing austerity and refusing to implement cuts coupled with hard work and commitment in protecting our communities can both gather popular support and be electorally successful. With a class war budget in the coming days and a national election less than 12 months away, we have much to fight for and much to consider, doing so buoyed by the bravery and spirit of the Greek people. For that we can truly say… OXI THANKS!

Liam McLaughlan is a activist and 2015 candidate for the Scottish Socialist Party. He was elected to the party’s executive committee in 2015. These are his opinions, and may not reflect party policy on the European Union. They are presented here for the purposes of discussion.

The SSP’s position on the in/out referendum is that working class people in Britain are being fed an illusion by UKIP (and others) that leaving the EU will somehow make things better. It will not. And therefore notwithstanding the very difficult sell to a sceptical public the task must be to challenge the control of Europe’s corporate/financial elite by linking up with other like-minded allies across Europe to democratise and socialise it. That is better done on a continental basis than at UK level where the neo-liberal right entrenched in their City of London redoubt are far more dominant.

Leaving the EU puts the UK working class at the mercy of the Tories and the arch capitalists and right-wingers behind Farage who will feel emboldened by success.

The SSP would campaign to stay in but we would explicitly avoid the mistake made by Labour in the Better Together campaign by emphasising our own distinct class perspective on the question.