Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A postscript on sectarianism and the Greek referendum

Supporters of a NO vote (OXI in Greek) in the referendum at the huge rally in Syntagma Square last Saturday

by Frank Brenner

On June 27, the World Socialist Web Site denounced the Greek referendum as “a reactionary fraud, designed to lend a veneer of democratic legitimacy to the looting of Greece by the banks.” (See "Greek prime minister calls for referendum on EU austerity demands" 

Two days later came the following announcement: “The World Socialist Web Site calls on workers in Greece to vote 'no' to accepting the EU’s demands for yet more austerity.” (See "Greek crisis comes to a head"

Quite a reversal of policy. After all, if we are to believe the WSWS of June 27, the WSWS of June 29 was calling on Greek workers to participate in “a reactionary fraud”, and by making such a call the WSWS was doing its little bit “to lend a veneer of democratic legitimacy to the looting of Greece by the banks.”

You would think this head-spinning turn would call for some explanation, but there isn't any. True, the WSWS adds: “But such a no vote must be understood for all that it implies,” and then we get a few paragraphs about the need for “a revolutionary struggle against the capitalist system.” But this is, as always with the WSWS, boilerplate rhetoric thrown in at the end of every article.

HOW does a no vote imply a revolutionary struggle against capitalism? This is the crucial issue, but one totally ignored by the WSWS. Indeed, without an explanation for its reversal of policy, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO UNDERSTAND how participation in “a reactionary fraud” can have ANY revolutionary implication.

A group that operates in this way – that can say one thing and 48 hours later say the opposite – is a group corroded by cynicism. The leadership operates with impunity because it has followers who accept its every pronouncement uncritically. At party conferences every resolution is always passed unanimously. This is how a cult operates, and the nice thing about running a cult is never having to say you're sorry. 


TKelatos said...

I am a long-time reader of the WSWS and have just come across your blog. I find your arguments in this post entirely unconvincing. I have re-read the WSWS articles on Greece and I can detect no "reversal" or "head-spinning turn".

1. The WSWS denounced Syriza's call for a referendum as a reactionary fraud aimed at creating the conditions to push through the diktats of the troika-- a position since confirmed in the most striking manner. (Incidentally, on July 7 the Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard provided his own confirmation of the WSWS warnings, stating that Tsipras called the referendum "with expectation--and intention--of losing it": )

2. The WSWS called for a No vote. What else should they have called for in response to the specific referendum question put to the Greek people? A Yes vote? an abstention?

In both cases the WSWS was fighting for the rights and interests of the Greek workers, in opposition to Syriza and all of the parties of the Greek ruling class. WSWS has advocated a revolutionary struggle by the working class against the diktats of the EU and capitalism. But for you this is "boilerplate rhetoric".

I see that your blog is called Permanent Revolution, but you don't seem to agree with socialism at all. Your vituperative post concludes by attacking the WSWS as a cult because... their members vote unanimously for conference resolutions. What a crime. Perhaps it's because the members agree with them!

Alex Steiner said...


We have responded to your comment in the post Sectarianism and the Greek working class