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The Minister Of Sic

The Minister Of Sic


Woland, an ex-member of Blaumachen and Sic, after having spent some odd years devising odd theories about the “era of riots” and the rise of the new revolutionary (non-)subject, has now found something more profitable to do: discarding his nom de guerre he has become Syriza’s Secretary General of the Ministry of Economy, Infrastructure, Maritime Affairs and Tourism, Director of the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank and Alternate Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, under his real name Manousos Manousakis. And all this movement of de-communisation in just over a year.

One of this ex-communiser’s many duties is to find the right government policy proportion of commons to privatizations, workers’ rights to capitalist investments.The fact that he is also vice president of the two-thirds privatised Greece Telecom as well as the guy Syriza has put in charge of Telecommunications is already becoming a bit of a scandal in Greece’s mainstream media – “a conflict of interests” as the pretension to State neutrality phrases it. But – it seems – it’s neither a scandal nor a “conflict of interests” amongst the ultra-lefthargic communisers of Sic and Blaumachen, whose silence on this subject is as deafening as the sound of a leaf falling during the explosion of a nuclear bomb.

There is also something else which is of importance here. Many of the SYRIZA’s high-profile cadres, who have been appointed as General Secretaries or senior councilors in ministries, used to be active participants in the social movements. As such, not only do they have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the movement and its practices, but they could also make use of their direct (or indirect) communication channels: from the mere acquisition of inside-information to the deployment of the (necessary) means of mediation even further inside the anti-authoritarian milieu and the movement in general. To give just one example, the traditional clientelist system is still being reproduced by partially integrating counter-cultural, counter-political and other informal social networks.

This weekend just gone (11th & 12th April) 2 meetings on the new Syriza government organised by Theorie Communiste, one in Lyon, the other in Marseille, were presented by Blaumachen. The announcement, in French, mentions nothing of their (presumably ex-) comrade, Commissar Woland, who has been the main theoretician of Blaumachen for almost 10 years. He has been a member of Sic and many of his articles have been published in this journal. In Greece, no members of Blaumachen or Sic have publicly criticized comrade Woland for his political choice to become a capitalist state functionary (in fact, a high rank state functionary involved in privatizations and capital investment plans). It is important to note that all members of these two groups knew about his political relationships with Syriza over the last few years. Silence is mouldy. Doubtless some have had their private doubts: how could this guy be a significant part of our scene and yet now be a member of the ruling class – and so quickly?! But, in this milieu, dominated as it is by the experts in “theory”, people not so versed in this intellectual expertise are so scared of finding themselves alone, of being accused of being wrong if they dare speak their mind, that they feel safer shutting up, as if such a fear didn’t indicate how alone they already were, despite being surrounded by a lot of strangers parading as “comrades”. And they expect others to dare make a revolution!?!


But the germ of this retreat and recuperation was already there in the Sic/Theorie Communiste mentality, its heavily abstract notion of theory. This mentality always takes on an idea of theory as something specialist, for theoreticians. That’s why it’s often a question of theory of theory. But it is rarely something for proletarians in struggle, as a support, encouragement and clarification of this struggle (which is not to say that those low in the Sic/TC hierarchy don’t sometimes contribute to proletarian practice – e.g. in the anti-shale gas struggles, or by opening up squats). This produces in those who identify and produce these “ideas” an intellectual role with an attitude of superiority towards people who haven’t read all the abstractions of Roland Simon or who haven’t read all 3½ volumes of Capital 1000 times and can quote them as quickly as other people can yawn. It’s a theory which considers practical risk, and practical consequences as of a far lesser importance than the sophistication of their ideas. Oh, how they just love to wallow in the notion of their own sophistication!

Above all, this role demands no break with the hierarchical comportment learnt from dominant social relations and it’s not too hard for those people entrenched in this hierarchical role to “transform” themselves without embarrassment into a politician. It’s not surprising to hear that the TPTG broke with Blaumachen in 2009 precisely because of the Machiavellian manipulations of Woland.

There is also a link with the political mentality and the determinism of Theorie Communiste. Those who have created their own “good reasons” to see revolution as inevitable invariably create a hierarchy in which the partisans who recognise their explanation are placed at the top; the as yet neutral masses are in the middle, and their opponents who may have competing reasons or no reason at all, are at the bottom. Determinism, in turn, is a logical outcome of the separation reinforced by this “revolutionary” mentality between themselves and the rest of the proletariat. If one cannot conceive of the masses as individuals capable of determining the conditions of their existence through conscious choice, as people capable of choosing to make a revolution, then it is necessary for a special enlightened group to supply them with an external motivation they can’t resist and which becomes a mentality of faith in the thought of this group which replaces their own theory, colonises their own point of view.


Is it Possible to Win the War After Losing All the Battles?


However, the movement which tried to halt the austerity program failed. The reasons are varied, and it is not within the scope of this article to explain them in detail. Suffice it to say that, as in every other social movement, this failure should be traced to both the violent determination of the government(s) to proceed with austerity at all costs (for which the ruling factions have paid a price) and the inability of the movement to transform itself from a defensive mobilization to protect existing conditions into an offensive attack on the conditions that created the crisis.

Nonetheless, the attention that Greece received was justifiable. Without exaggeration, one could argue that many of the political strategies of resistance which the international left has only read about in books were tried and tested in Greece in the years after the crisis: general strikes with massive participation, bringing economic activities to a halt; militant and violent demonstrations with constantly growing numbers of participation; neighborhood assemblies that sought to act as minuscule formations of self-organization, attempting to deal with immediate issues caused by the crisis; one of the most militant squares movements, which managed to call for two successful general strikes; a climate of continuous antagonism that gradually but steadily involved more and more people.

It is, however, no exaggeration to say that none of these inspiring moments managed to counteract the effects of the crisis and its management by the state. However exhilarating, promising, and tense these outbreaks were for those of us who participated in them, it has become imperative to understand their failure to achieve even a small (however reformist) victory.



The dominance within the anti-austerity movement of the nationalist discourse concerning the renegotiation/reduction of government debt – a statist reduction of payments from above (a concern shared also by Golden Dawn) as opposed to the proletarian refusal of payments from below – and the “productive reconstruction of the Greek economy” combined with the dominance of the social-democratic discourse about “citizens’ social rights”, “common goods rights”, “self-management” and the “social-economy” to pave the way for the emergence of SYRIZA as the next ruling party. After actively undermining the potential development of the struggles in the workplaces, the squares and the streets into a proletarian movement that could threaten the rule of capital and its state, SYRIZA managed to transform their defeat into its electoral power. A large section of the working class and the petty bourgeoisie rested their hopes for the reversal of the politics of capital devaluation on the polling success of SYRIZA. The new government coalition is the reconnection of the grassroots “revolt from the left” with the more active and non-fascist “revolt from the right” on the capitalist state level. Normally, this will open up a new round of revendicative struggles of the working class and the petty bourgeoisie.

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Summer 2012, a report from Greece