Mark Bergfeld review of ‘Crucible of Resistance’

Political blogger Mark Bergfeld has written a review of Crucible of Resistance by Christos Laskos and Euclid Tsakalotos.  The book challenges the mainstream accounts of the Greek Crisis, and critiques the world economic system.

The review begins by commending the authors on dividing their attention between the national and the international:

The authors successfully integrate the Greek crisis in the broader framework of the eurozone and world economy. They continuously highlight the interplay between the national and international; the neoliberalization of Greece after the collapse of the dictatorship in 1974 and the recurrence of capitalist crisis in different parts of the world.

Bergfeld then analyses several of the key points made in the book:

“The most likely resolution to the crisis will be either in the direction of a far more authoritarian capitalism or moves to transcend capitalism in some important dimensions.” (9) They aptly label this “the no-turning back thesis”. I would agree with their position insofar that every economic crisis results in fundamental instability of the political and its re-negotiation. The repercussions of the East Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 are still being mobilised around in Thailand to this very day. The consequences of this deep and prolonged crisis in Greece and other Southern European states (and even the Northern ones) will transform the European political landscape in an unprecedented and unimaginable way.

He mentions the few “sticking points” of the book, but concludes that while Laskos and Tsakalotos don’t have all the answers, their questions do prompt interesting discussions:

There are a few sticking points which the book does have. The authors seek to answer why social democracy vis-a-vis PASOK didn’t reassess its commitment to neoliberalism post the collapse of Lehman Brothers. The tentative answer they provide is that social-democratic parties and their members are “cognitively linked” to the neoliberal project. Thus, they cannot act beyond what they know from their own past experiences. Hollande in France, the German SPD and other formations are named as a living proof that social-democracy finds itself in crisis. Whether this crisis is structural, cyclical or secular is not answered. It also must be questioned whether quasi-psychological answers suffice to explain social-democracy’s demise. Their book might not have all the right answers to the questions but it can allow the kind of discussions which might arrive at them.

He ends in agreement with most of the authors’ points:

Especially for people outside of Greece it is interesting to read Laskos’ and Tsakalotos’ book. The importance they ascribe to mobilisíng labour against capital stands in stark opposition to Etienne Balibar or the Greek Communist Party (KKE) who suggest to mobilise ‘the people’ or, demos. Hereby, they place particular emphasis on “transformative structures” and projects of self-organisation. “People come to see the value of solidarity in practice and come to see politics, widely defined, can actually change things. [P]ractices that are antithetical to capitalist values can also play a key role, and the Left needs to think very seriously about the role of alternative practices” (144). I couldn’t agree more. However, these alternative practices can only be rendered meaningful if they form part of a strategy towards socialism. I think the authors would agree with me.

Read the article in full here.

To buy Crucible of Resistance by Christos Laskos and Euclid Tsakalotos, click on the cover image below.

Laskos T02733“This book gives us a clear account of how Greece and the eurozone got into such a mess. It makes clear that the crisis is not only economic, but also one of growing regional and social inequalities and the retreat of democracy. More important still, the authors bring to the fore what the emerging radical left in Greece and elsewhere can do to get us out of the crisis.”

Alexis Tsipras, head of Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) and Leader of the Opposition in the Greek parliament

“The future of democracy in Greece is a matter for all of us in Europe. Laskos and Tsakalotos take us behind the headlines about ‘bailouts’ and ‘crisis’ and share with us both the challenges and the alternatives which Greeks are creating as they resist: from networks of solidarity to a new kind of political party with a strongly European perspective. Essential reading in the decisive months ahead.”

Hilary Wainwright, author of Reclaim the State: Experiments in Popular Democracy

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