Greece has to go green

(This was written as a comment in response to this typically excellent piece by Alex Andreou (@sturdyalex), I’m not sure if the Byline comments section is working properly so I’m posting it here in any case)

You lay things out very clearly and fairly. This article from a French site published yesterday makes clear just how enormously difficult the position of the Greek negotiators was, so anyone criticising Tsipras and his team has to do so with great circumspection. For me (from my customarily limited perspective) it seems as though Costas Lapavitsas was right all along, that Greece has to leave the euro and strike out on its own, nationalising the banks forthwith. The problem with this in the context of the last two weeks is threefold: problems of liquidity made it unfeasible; Tsipras had just asked for a mandate to stay in the euro; and the process will be a time-consuming one as it will have to be done in an orderly fashion. It’s clear now that Syriza weren’t and aren’t prepared for this at this stage. I do think that in the future one of the Second Division Euro countries will have to make the leap, and when they do it will need to be on the basis of not only a formal process of disengagement and the setting in place of a formal alternative, but also on the basis of a massive campaign of national and international solidarity for a popular austerity programme a la Cuba. It would have to mean taking a path of alternative sustainable development rather than further slavish adherence to the neoliberal model of selling off the country’s assetts, sacrificing its environment and enslaving its people. I don’t say this as a fan of Castro’s Cuba but it does offer a useful point of comparison for what would need to happen. There’s a documentary from the early 90s about Cuba’s special period after the fall of the USSR which I think would be very useful viewing at this time as it details how Cuba was forced to turn to alternative energy in order to survive. Why couldn’t Greece be the world’s first truly sustainable economy? Easier to ask than to achieve but if it is to survive with falling into war, fascism or permanent debt peonage it seems to me that this is the only way for it to develop. So far, as Naomi Klein details in This Changes Everything, Syriza doesn’t seem to have begun to take climate change and other environmental questions seriously but in doing so it may not only be able to find a way out of this morass but also to offer a shining example to the world of how humanity itself can leap off the express train leading it to certain and total destruction and survive its special period.