Mass poverty in Greece, it’s what awaits us all

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Mass poverty in Greece, it’s what awaits us all
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Mass poverty in Greece, it’s what awaits us all. The discussion was initiated by Fred.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

Is the awful poverty seen in

Is the awful poverty seen in Greece going to spread throughout Europe; with even children previously fed and cared for, sick from lack of food? We've had this in Africa for years. But thats Africa! But Europe! Is this what capitalism has brought us to; our lives at stake; jobs vanishing, wages slashed by half. It's almost too awful to believe. Even worse, has decadence, decomposition, austerity psychosis, depression - call it what you will- has this all pervasive misery now got such a hold on us that the working class itself may be rendered incapable of rising up, in a European led attack against capital, and resisting the further humiliations of the dying system? We wait to see and wait the next wave of resistance. We have the contagion of austerity but need the contagion of revolt. Without it, the outlook is bleak, is it not?

In a forum on the ICT site, Stevein7 has this to say. “The crisis is a long way from its worst point yet and as far as cuts are concerned more, and worse, are to come. I doubt there will be any revolutionary response until the working class has been stretched on the rack to breaking point. Sadly I think there will be many more sacrifices, the lesson will not be learnt outside of a protracted, painful process."

But do we really have to be stretched to breaking point? Is there no hope before that? It's not so much the misery of austerity that hurts, but the lack of any self-orchestrated proletarian response. The unions will never help us get rid of capitalism. We have to do it ourselves.

The problem Fred is that the

The problem Fred is that the definition of "breaking point" is relative. If poverty and misery were the only motivating factors for revolution, then as you point out, Africa would be the most revolutionary place on earth, yet it is not. There are other factors to consider: "relative immiseration" (as opposed to absolute poverty), a culture of collective combat, the structure of particular states and the idiosyncratic, but nevertheless important, "contingent events" all play a role in the development of a revolutionary response.  I fear though that you may be right in that growing poverty probably does not constitute the most favorable grounds for the development of a revolutionary response. In fact, to the extent that today mass poverty is likely a function of decomposition, it probably works against it.


red flag

I partly agree with the idea that poverty on it's own will not generate a militant response from the working class against the austerity cuts.  Other factors will have to be present such as the increasing wealth concentration by the bourgeoise after all one of the factors in Britain from 1910-14 was the decline in wages combined with the rise in luxury spending by the bourgeosie also the failure of the reformists to stop the dismantling of the social wage will open the space for revolutionary regrouppment.

Of course, poverty itself is

Of course, poverty itself is one thing. The fear of falling into poverty is another factor altogether.

red flag
The experience of and fear of

The experience of and fear of upcoming poverty also impacts on classes differently and will make them more suceptable to either revolutionary or counter revolutionary messages.  The middle classes fear poverty and fear being pushed into what they regard as  an inferior class position.  The middle classes can become through fear amenable to fascist ideology in a way which workers can not.

I think it's worth

I think it's worth considering Lenin's thought on the subject:

"The fundamental law of revolution, which has been confirmed by all revolutions and especially by all three Russian revolutions in the twentieth century, is as follows: for a revolution to take place it is not enough for the exploited and oppressed masses to realise the impossibility of living in the old way, and demand changes; for a revolution to take place it is essential that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule in the old way. It is only when the "lower classes" do not want to live in the old way and the "upper classes" cannot carry on in the old way that the revolution can triumph. This truth can be expressed in other words: revolution is impossible without a nation-wide crisis (affecting both the exploited and the exploiters). It follows that, for a revolution to take place, it is essential, first, that a majority of the workers (or at least a majority of the class-conscious, thinking, and politically active workers) should fully realise that revolution is necessary, and that they should be prepared to die for it; second, that the ruling classes should be going through a governmental crisis, which draws even the most backward masses into politics (symptomatic of any genuine revolution is a rapid, tenfold and even hundredfold increase in the size of the working and oppressed masses—hitherto apathetic—who are capable of waging the political struggle), weakens the government, and makes it possible for the revolutionaries to rapidly overthrow it."

Well, I guess we can close

Well, I guess we can close this thread now, Lenin has spoken!

Seriously, many of the criteria Lenin identifies would seem to be present in Greece today and yet it is still difficult to see the development of a revolutionary situation there. Its like we are going to have to go through an entire period of relearning some of the basic acquisitions of the workers' movement on democracy, etc.