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<nettime> Tsipras: hero, traitor, hero, traitor, hero
Michael Gurstein on Mon, 20 Jul 2015 20:48:51 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Tsipras: hero, traitor, hero, traitor, hero


   https://www.byline.com/column/11/article/164

   ALEXIS TSIPRAS: HERO, TRAITOR, HERO, TRAITOR, HERO
   Alex Andreou | Athens, Greece & London, UK | 13 July 2015

   It is revealing of the political landscape in Europe - indeed, the
   world - that everyone's dreams of socialism seemed to rest on the
   shoulders of the young Prime Minister of a small country.  There seemed
   to be a fervent, irrational, almost evangelical belief that a tiny
   country, drowning in debt, gasping for liquidity, would somehow (and
   that somehow is never specified) defeat global capitalism, armed only
   with sticks and rocks.

   When it looked like it wouldn't happen, they turned. "Tsipras
   capitulated." "He is a traitor." The complexity of international
   politics was reduced to a hashtag, that quickly changed from variants
   of #prayfortsipras to variants of #tsiprasresign. The world demanded
   its climax, its X-factor final, its Hollywood dénouement. Anything
   other than a fight to the death was unacceptable cowardice.

   How easy it is to be ideologically pure when you are risking nothing.
   When you are not facing shortages, the collapse of social cohesion,
   civil conflict, life and death. How easy it is to demand a deal that
   would plainly never be accepted by any of the other Eurozone member
   states. How easy brave decisions are when you have no skin in the game,
   when you are not counting down, as I am, the last twenty-four doses of
   the medication which prevents your mother from having seizures.

   Twenty doses. Fourteen.

   It is a peculiar feature of pathological negativity to focus only on
   what is lost instead of what is gained. It is the very same attitude
   that means sections of every country's population - long for their
   perfect Socialist Utopia while simultaneously avoiding tax every way
   they can.

   The idea of Tsipras as a "traitor" relies heavily on a cynical
   misinterpretation of the referendum last week. "OXI", the critics would
   have you believe, was "no" to any sort of deal; an authorisation to
   disorderly Grexit. It was nothing of the sort. In speech after speech
   Tsipras said again and again that he needed a strong "OXI" to use as a
   negotiating weapon in order to achieve a better deal. Did you all miss
   that? Now, you may think he didn't achieve a better deal - that may be
   fair - but to suggest it authorised Grexit is deeply disingenuous. And
   what about the 38% that voted "NAI"? Was Tsipras not there representing
   those people, too?

   Fear not. The deal may prove unworkable anyway. It may not be passed by
   Greek Parliament. Syriza might tear itself apart from within. Grexit
   may be forced by those who have been trying to make it happen for years
   now. Then we get to assess what your better outcome looks like.

   Twelve doses. Ten.

   The agreement that Tsipras achieved (caveat: as we know it) after
   negotiating for 17 hours, is a lot worse than anyone could have
   imagined. It is also a lot better than anyone could hope. It simply
   depends on whether you focus on what has been lost or what has been
   gained. The loss is a package of horrific austerity. It is a package
   which, anyone with any political understanding knows, was coming
   anyway. The only difference is that, through a compliant government
   like the previous ones, it would be accompanied by no compensations.

   What has been gained in return is much more money than previously
   imagined to properly fund the medium term and allow the government to
   implement its programme, a significant stimulus package, the release of
   EFSF money which had until now been denied (to the "good" government of
   Samaras), and an agreement to restructure debt, by transferring bonds
   from IMF and ECB to the ESM. That is nothing, hecklers heckle. ERT
   analyst Michael Gelantalis estimates this last part alone to be worth
   between eight and ten billion less in interest repayments a year. That
   is a lot of souvlaki.

   In the last few hours I have been told that Greece "should just #Grexit
   NOW"; that we have "a wonderful climate and could easily be
   self-sufficient"; that we "should adopt bitcoin and crowdfunding to
   circumvent monetarism"; that "the US would send us medicine". None of
   these people are suggesting that this should happen in their own
   country, you understand. Just Greece, so they can see what happens.
   Most of them live in states with centrist governments, which espouse
   austerity, but guarantee a steady supply of the latest iPad to the
   shops. All of them, without exception, could have negotiated a much
   better deal with a knife to their throat; could have been braver.
   My question to those critics is: What battles are you fighting in your
   country, city, town, right now? And at what risk? Are you not, in fact,
   just as bad as the hardcore austerity ideologues that want to
   experiment with a "toy country", with people's lives, and see how it
   pans out?

   Eight doses. Five.

   Seen as a sort of Helm's Deep, this defeat for the Greeks is
   monumental, irredeemable. It is the "all is lost" moment. Seen as one
   opening battle in much larger war, it is hugely valuable. It has drawn
   the enemy out into the fore, exposed its strengths and weaknesses. It
   has provided intelligence to others, in Spain and Portugal and Italy,
   which will ensure they're better prepared. It has been bravely fought.
   And smartly, because Greece gets to live to fight another day.
   We elected a good, honest and brave man, who fought like a lion against
   unfathomably large interests. The result may not be the martyrdom for
   which you had hoped. But it will do for now.
   _________
   Note from Byline: Alex Andreou is crowdfunding his ongoing coverage of
   the Greek Crisis. Please consider contributing a few pounds through the
   link on the right of the page.
   _________

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