Keynes sau Marx?

Texte selectate sau scrise de echipa redacţională: Vasile Ernu, Costi Rogozanu, Florin Poenaru.

Michael Roberts pune întrebarea aceasta în legătură cu situația din Grecia:

The Greeks are now in a so-called four-month breathing space, an extension of the existing ‘bailout’ programme agreed by the previous Conservative-led government with the Troika (the EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF). Of course, this breathing space is already narrow and closing. The Greek economy continues to suffocate (see my post

An interview with Costas Lapavitsas
But there is an opportunity to consider the way out for the Greek people when the four months are up. That’s what makes the recent interview in Jacobin with Syriza MP and Marxist economist, Costas Lapavitsas, a leading member of the Left Platform within Syriza, so interesting. (

Costas pulls no punches and spells it out like he sees it, taking no prisoners from the reformist left as represented by current finance minister Yanis Varoufakis or what he calls the ‘ultra-left’ of the KKE communists and Antarsya (as well as unnamed impractical Marxists).

Previously based at the SOAS college in London, Lapavitsas is not a member of Syriza (although he was elected on the party list) and is a newcomer to parliamentary politics. However, he has been a socialist activist for most of his life and is known for his incisive and challenging theoretical work on the political economy of money, credit and financialization (see my post,

Lapavitsas has also worked with the Research on Money and Finance group in London to produce concrete analyses of the origins and trajectory of the European crisis and, most recently, published together with the German neo-Keynesian economist Heiner Flassbeck a kind of manifesto proposing a radical break from the euro.

It’s a long and thorough interview, excellently conducted by Sebastian Budgen, so I’ll just concentrate my comments on what I thought was key to understanding the state of the Greek capitalist economy and the policy objectives and alternatives open to Syriza and the Greek people.  This post is still very long!

Lapavitsas criticises the position adopted by the Syriza leadership in its negotiations for an extension of the bailout. For him, what was wrong was not that Varoufakis and Tsipras did not stick to the Syriza aim of cancelling or renegotiating the debt, but that they capitulated to the Troika on this because they were not prepared to exit the euro. “Syriza will attempt to lift austerity, reduce the debt — restructure or write off the debt — and change the balance of social, economic, and political forces in Greece and Europe more generally without breaking out of the monetary union and without coming into all-around conflict with the European Union. That’s clearly what this government signals.”

For Lapavitsas, it is impossible to end austerity and stay in the euro – and that is what is wrong with Varoufakis’ position. “The government went into negotiations with an approach which, as I’ve already said, was critical to its composition, to creating it, which is that we can go into the negotiating room and we can demand and fight for significant changes, including the lifting of austerity and the writing off of debt, while remaining firmly within the confines of the monetary union.”

Lapavitsas is right to say that whether we consider Varoufakis a Marxist or not is unimportant (at this point in the interview, reference is made to my own analysis of Varoufakis’ views – see my post, As Lapavitsas, puts it, Varoufakis is a heterodox economist who has rightly “rejected neoclassical economics”, but he has never been “a man of the Left, revolutionary left” and was at one time an adviser to reformist George Papandreou. Lapavitsas is right on this: labels are not important: the correct analysis and policy prescriptions are what matters. And what is clear is that Varoufakis owes more to Keynes than Marx.


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