Presenting the Greek translation of his book “PostCapitalism: A Guide to our Future” in Athens on Thursday, journalist and writer Paul Mason told the ANA-MPA that he was optimistic that a deal with Greece΄s creditors will finally happen, allowing a return of investments and growth, while warning that the country΄s economic situation was critical and further complicated by the new geopolitical situation.
“The Europeans need to decide whether they want to push Greece over the edge, into complete failure of a state, because they are quite capable of doing that. Greece has moved, the SYRIZA government has moved so far toward the demands of the European Union. It can΄t go any further. I hope that the rhetoric coming out of Donald Tusk, Juncker and Schaeuble, all of which says a deal is possible, can be delivered on,” he said, when asked to comment on the economic situation in Greece.
Mason also pointed to the new geopolitical pressures on the country, such as the refugee crisis or the geopolitical maneuvering by Erdogan in Turkey, expressing his opinion that Greece was “on the edge of a fragmenting reality” and that only the current government was capable of holding the country together and dealing with “the level of stress in the global system that is going to be focused on Greece.”
Asked if he was optimistic, he replied affirmatively: “If a deal can be done, even if it only involves some minor debt restructuring now, and certainty can be created that Greece will remain in the Eurozone, then investment will flow back. Everybody knows this.”
According to Mason, this was one reason “why the opponents of the Left are trying to prevent the Left from delivering it. Because, whoever delivers stability will reap the benefits of reinvestment and growth into Greece.”
“I think it will happen and I am optimistic it will happen but, to me, this is a battle for the soul of the country. Does the country want to be an open, outward-looking, liberal place, like in the sense of freedom, or will the old forces of oligarchy come back,” he added.
Talking about his book, he said it was “less of a manifesto and more of a project plan” aiming at creating a non-market sector, “a collaborative sector of shared things and then growing that sector, like Wikipedia, like Linux, into the rest of the economy, right the way through to production, to manufacturing, to services.”
“The aim of this book was to try and think through a problem that the modern left and modern social movements have: What are we actually fighting for?” Mason said, saying his project called for changing society “so the amount of work falls, we pay people out of taxation and we try to produce as much as we can beyond the market.”
“It΄s less of a manifesto; in the end though its the beginnings of a manifesto. It΄s more of an analysis of where we are from several viewpoints. I try to look at what΄s gone wrong with neoliberalism. Many people in Greece would critique neoliberalism but what has really gone wrong with it is deeper than just it΄s run by a bunch of elite rich people. I don΄t think it works at all any more.
Then I ask: why isn’t capitalism adapting to survive. Normally, it goes through a process of adaptation: new industries, new technologies produce, generally, a higher standard of living. This time it΄s produced a lower standard of living…the reason could be because information technology is different. It΄s not going to produce, within the capitalist framework, any kind of new take-off or new prosperity and we have to start thinking beyond capitalism in order to start using information technology in the way that it needs to be used, which is to reduce work and make life better.
He noted that the subject of the change was now different than in the classic left-wing formula. “For old Marxism, the actor of history, the agent of history is the working class…I think that the working class, the labouring class still exists, it΄s just that it also has different attributes. Therefore, the subject of this transformation is going to be the networked individual, which can achieve, in some senses less than the working class because they are not so cohesive but sometimes they achieve more.
Mason told ANA-MPA that it was his experiences covering the Greek crisis and the “Plateias Movement” on Syntagma Square, as well as those in Tahrir Square and Gezi Park in Turkey that showed him how powerful these movements of networked citizens can be.
“Of course, without class, there is nothing to bind it together. Therefore, what we need is a project to bind the Left΄s efforts together and that΄s what I try to write. It΄s less of a manifesto and more of a project plan,” he added.