Opinion: Three pathways for the economy to follow: The wrong one, the problematic and the strategic one

Opinion: Three pathways for the economy to follow: The wrong one, the problematic and the strategic one

By Nikos Kotzias *

In the economy and consequently in politics, there are currently three different voices for the path the country must follow. The first one is clearly wrong for the land and its people, yet it is the right one for the oligarchs. The second one is problematic: excellent for unions, incomplete for a party. The third one defends the gains but understands that the world is changing and needs a clear strategy for the international upgrading of the country and the strengthening of the position of the workers. It understands that the country needs a new model of productive reconstruction.

Option one refers to the government policy that expresses the interests of the Greek oligarchy and corruption. This policy is one that seeks to exploit the crisis to the detriment of small and medium-sized enterprises, employees, farmers and stockbreeders. This is a classic case of “class struggle” from above. In other words, while the crisis is underway and causing damage, the government, along with the oligarchs, is trying to take away rights. Disorganize labor relations. To curtail salaries even more.

Class struggle from above seeks the crisis to be paid for by the majority of Greek society and not only to keep the interests of the few intact but also, if possible, to strengthen them. Class struggle from above aims to dismantle the system of rights and freedoms, to turn society more conservative, to promote harsh neoliberal practices, and to limit the functioning of democracy. It is imperative that the left understands the kind of social struggle that the “class struggle from above” is dictating and to process the historical evidence that exists.

The neoliberal economy requires conservative policies and authoritarian-tyrannical methods. The policy for the few is based on this exact triptych. It defends the right of the few to free themselves from the shackles imposed on them by the many when conditions and relations were different. This “ex-post politics” constitutes the textbook for social struggle from above.

From the summer of 2019, I characterized the choices of the Mitsotakis government as tyrannical in an Aristotelian use of the term, but also in the way Lukacs and his students, Hannah Arendt and Agnes Heller understood it. The term means governance by a small group, with common perceptions and interests, based on a “blind” majority. It seeks to abolish the basic rule of democracy, which is the ability of a minority to become a majority. It is taking all measures to prevent such a change.

The second proposal’s value lies in the way it fights the first one. But to some extent it becomes entrapped in its very own “logic”. It looks to prevent any attempt to abolish rights, negative income redistribution, unfair measures for the majority of workers. It advocates for the country to return to the pro-people policy pursued in the 2015-9 period. Indeed, we do not want the people to lose any gains and we must defend them. But the left is not just for defensive games.

Defensive policy is immediately the most necessary. Under conditions such as the current ones, it could even rise as the main battle front. However, this defensive struggle must be combined with the basic plan of a left-wing political movement. The formation of a program, even a vision, for a human society in Greece and its international upgrading. A different reconstruction of the economy.

A long-term policy is needed, which envisions to ensure that Greece does not miss her chance for a digital economy and society. Robotics and nanotechnology. New materials and biogenetics. In our country, the appropriate education will be provided for the new generations and in a popularized version for the whole society. Otherwise, no matter how many good intentions there are there, Greece will be dependent on those who own, produce and serve new technologies.

Greece needs to develop its productive forces. And to do that, it must develop democracy and freedoms in the age of digital technology. I’ve been saying this for years, but it’s hard for many on the left who cannot think outside the economics and tactics box.

We need a big radical plan for a democratic transformation of the Greek society. With modern, technologically advanced education. Complete fight against technological illiteracy. New technological network forms throughout the public space as a whole. Production of new technology products. Distribution and utilization services of these technologies at low cost. It is unacceptable for Greece to have the most expensive internet in the EU. Greece can and must become a producer of new technological means.

The development of new technologies must be actualized in a way that will empower the individual. It will ameliorate labor and its conditions. It will not lead to cheaper work or even unemployment. Instead it will lead to qualitatively upgraded industries. With modern technology and equally highly specialized employees with high incomes. Greece will win the competition fight not in the cheapness category, where it can never win, but in the domain of high quality. Defending the economy, then, is not enough.

We need an active democratic, economic and political strategy. The memoranda edition of Greece, even in its best moments, cannot be what we strive for, but instead we should fight for a country which is upgraded, reconstituted, democratic and with social justice. /ibna

* Nikos Kotzias is a former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, University Professor of International Relations and Foreign Policy and President of the Movement for Ideas and Action “Pratto”.