Hungary’s new left and the Greek referendum: Today Athens, tomorrow Budapest!

Greek voters rejected the dictates of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in much larger numbers than initially anticipated. The decision was reasonable, understandable and, given the circumstances, it can certainly be appreciated. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government received a remarkable mandate to continue the country’s economic and humanitarian war of independence. The results of the referendum also mean that the nightmare, which set this developed welfare state adrift towards the boundaries of total collapse, must now come to an end.

How did Greece get here?

The avalanche was triggered by the Olympics, which proved to be a bottomless money pit. Greece’s establishment parties and political elites knew no limits when it came getting the country mired in debt. In the decades preceding Syriza’s rise to power, these political elites effectively pocketed the loans and monies arriving in the country. And it must be added that the European Union’s competent agencies, which should have detected the developing and deepening crisis, chose to allow the on-going robbery among the establishment parties. In fact, the beneficiaries of Greece’s growing indebtedness were German and French institutions, banks and munitions manufacturers.

The Greek government’s strategy is that of compromise, bolstered by the results of a referendum. Mr. Tsipras seeks to secure debt restructuring–a temporary period, during which Greek society and the economy can at least breath and get some respite. Some are raising an alternative recommendation–and there is some merit to this–that these loans should not be re-paid, because the fact that these monies were even offered by creditors constituted irresponsible lending. EU and IMF officials weren’t saving Greece as such, but rather the German and French banks, who–in conjunction with Greek political elites–participated in a classical pyramid scheme.

The Greek people simply cannot be forced to pay back loans that were essentially stolen even before they had been issued.

The plebiscite was not only about the anti-austerity campaign, but also about solidarity. Local television station, radios, newspapers and other media, as well as employers all tried to convince those Greek to vote “yes,” who still had gainful employment or other sources of income. But the Greek middle class was essentially able to turn its back on its purported class interest. They did not fall for the lies perpetuated by the elite parties. They did not believe that what would be in their best interest, is if the situation deteriorates for everyone else.

It’s not surprising that Ms. Tsipras, on the eve of his referendum win, declared that this was a victory for the entire Greek people. The No votes demonstrated a true sense of national unity.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

In Hungary, very few of us were able or willing to support the Greek people and the Tsipras government. Those few writers and professionals who dared to speak out, despite the anti-Greek lynch mentality that dominated Hungarian public discourse, deserve some thanks. But we can’t forget the damaging and foolish propaganda campaign of the liberal media. ATV and HVG seemed to descend to the deepest depths, in terms of this hate campaign.

We also must not forget that the majority of Hungarian political parties stood behind the ‘yes’ vote, either explicitly or implicitly. It is a huge blow to Viktor Orbán, who essentially meets all EU and IMF demands, and whose fiery language around the war of independence is merely fancy polemics, when we see real statesmen in Europe who dare to do what they received their mandate for by voters.

Jobbik’s politicians can’t be too pleased with the ‘no’ vote either, as this represents solidarity across an entire people. Jobbik can only build its base on a politics of fear and collective hate. Jobbik’s support can only remain at the current elevated level, until a Hungarian Syriza appears on the scene.

The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), which claims deceptively to be left-wing, and the other liberal civic parties, all supported Greek capitulation. This shows what we can expect if they ever get close to power. They would once again accept austerity measures and would be lackeys of EU and IMF officials.

Gyula Thürmer, the chairman of the Hungarian Workers’ Party (Munkáspárt), happened to hold a memorial celebration at János Kádár’s grave, whilst being on one platform with the Greek Communist Party (KKE), which effectively strengthened the ‘yes’ camp. While Mr. Thürmer gives speeches about his support of Mr. Tsipras’s policies, he is on the same page with the scheming left, which awaits the fall of the Syriza government.

We can be sure that the referendum is but one important milestone in a broader war about inequitable economic realities. The real struggle is just about to begin, considering that the IMF’s and EU’s strategy of coup d’etats isn’t likely to change. They are likely preparing to use any means possible to remove Mr. Tsipras’s government from power and to foment civil conflict in Greece. They are already searching for the person in Greece who could play the role of the hangman, much like what happened when Augusto Pinochet rose to power after the removal of Salvador Allende in Chile.

In this situation it is critical that the entire Greek people feel the power of solidarity. It’s also important that there be more of us in Hungary who are willing to support this cause in public. We need to help ensure that public opinion is not informed by Hungary’s deceptive right-wing and liberal camps.

The courage and success of the Greeks should empower and inspire us as well in Hungary. We need to strengthen the party that is capable of being an alternative to the elite parties. We need a Hungarian Syriza and I am quite certain that with determination and lots of work, we can help turn the Hungarian Left Party (Balpárt) into the dominant force of the Hungarian left-wing. That which is possible in Athens today, can become a reality in Hungary tomorrow. But we need to believe in an empowered Hungarian society, which is built on a sense of solidarity. In order to achieve this, we must reject servility, the lies and the campaigns of hate. We need a real national consensus and real national unity.

Szilárd Kalmár
(Translated from the Hungarian by Christopher Adam)

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