This morning, Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis announced his resignation on his blog. This is despite the "no" vote in the country's referendum on austerity measures, a result which Varoufakis calls "splendid". Varoufakis said he "was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted 'partners', for my... 'absence' from its meetings", and so he's resigning to help Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reach a deal. He said he would "wear the creditors' loathing with pride".
Varoufakis's anti-austerity ideas are spelled out in his book The Global Minotaur: America, Europe and the Future of the Global Economy, published by our comrades at Zed Books. Below is the foreword, , to that book by Paul Mason, economics editor for Channel 4 News and author of Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed.
The banks are closed, the bailout referendum is looming: Paul Mason describes the atmosphere in Greece as it prepares for the vote which will determine the triumph or defeat of the only anti-austerity government in Europe.
As Mason puts it:
If it all ends on Monday, with the Greeks voting for austerity in order to keep the euro, the first far-left party to hold office in modern Europe will be judged by its critics a failure ... If they win, on the other hand, they will be seen as heroes by opponents of austerity across Europe.
Monday 29 June. Visit the Guardian to read the article in full.
On 25 January 2015, Syriza, the radical Left coalition lead by Alexis Tsipras, won a historic election victory winning just two seats shy of an absolute majority in the Greek parliament. As Etienne Balibar observed at the time:
“This is the first time that any popular force has proven able to pose a challenge to the ‘governance’ that has dominated Europe ever since the ‘neoliberal’ turn. This rupture is taking place in a ‘small country’, but the Greek experience has its echoes everywhere."
The election was won on the back of a campaign that promised to renegotiate the terms of the country's bailout by the European Union, in stark contrast to Northern European ideology of austerity. Syriza's election win sent shockwaves throughout the international money markets, with the European Central Bank implementing credit controls on Greek banks, restricting its cash flows and making prohibitively expensive for those banks to access capital. After months of negotiations between Greece and its creditors, there has been an impasse, with Germany and its Northern European aliies unyielding despite extensive concessions given by Syriza on the conditions of its €8bn austerity package.
On 27 June, Tsipras called a referendum to decide whether or not to accept the bailout conditions given by the EU. It is a gutsy decision that took much of the world by surprise. A 'No' vote would galvanise Syriza and give it a public mandate to bolster its position against the country's creditors, whereas having its own subjects voting 'Yes' to extensive cuts would deliver perhaps the punishing final blow to any credible alternative to austerity in the Eurozone.
With this in mind, we bring you an essential reading list that aims charts the trajectory of Syriza from its origins as a loose coalition on the fringes of Greek politics to being the only credible party on the European Left that is openly fighting back against the violent ideology of austerity.