ATHENS – Dismissing the “supposedly radical-left SYRIZA,” the US-based far-leftist site Jacobin said that Greece’s left needs to come together to create an alternative, still angry that former premier Alexis Tsipras gave in to international lenders and imposed austerity to get an 86-billion euro ($93.46 billion) bailout.
It’s too late for the next elections that are coming in the spring and with Greece’s left badly splintered into factions that saw the New Democracy Conservatives take power after routing SYRIZA in July, 2019 snap polls.
Ignoring 5.6 percent growth in Greece’s economy in 2022 as the COVID-19 pandemic waned, and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis luring batches of big International Technology companies and foreign investors, the site said that the the economic recovery hasn’t brought Greece back to previous levels.
“Greek wages are the fourth lowest in the EU. Poverty is well entrenched across broad social layers. The young are confronted with the prospect of mass unemployment, precarious jobs, and emigration,” it said.
Jacobin put a lot of the blame on Tsipras, who reneged on a 40-point platform and hit workers, pensioners and the poor with big pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions – he’s now promising if he wins he will restore a 13th monthly salary that had been eliminated.
The constraints of the third MoU (Memorandum of Understanding,) signed by Alexis Tsipras’s SYRIZA government in 2015, will shackle the country until 2060,” the site added as it poured on the criticism.
But it also saved some for Mitsotakis and his government for “pushing a radical neoliberal and authoritarian agenda, further entrenching the results of the shock therapy of the preceding decade.”
It said that Tsipras “is trying to regain power with vague promises that would leave the existing policies essentially intact. And how could things be otherwise, given SYRIZA’s own record in government?”
Jacobin said the Greek Communist Party (KKE) that has been stuck at 6 percent support for decades and is politically irrelevant “while still a significant militant force, remains unfortunately stuck in the same sectarian rut that it has followed for years, despite some timid openings in the field of social struggles.”
Jacobin refers to the most radical and ruthless of the political groups formed in the aftermath of the French Revolution which worked with Robespierre in instituting a reign of terror from 1793-94.
The site said there’s a political vacuum in the left, KKE having “a peculiar sort of political passivity and electoral stagnation, disguised by radical rhetoric,” and that a party it prefers – MeRA25 of Yanis Varoufakis, a former finance minister under SYRIZA’s rule – can’t “provide the necessary political answers on its own.”
“The extra-parliamentary left is deeply weakened and seems unable to overcome its chronic fragmentation. So far, it has proved unable to articulate a discourse that could reach a reasonably wide audience,” said the piece written by Stathis Kouvelakis, who teaches Political Theory at King’s College London, and Costas Lapavitsas, a Professor of Economics at SOAS, currently at the New School for Social Research in New York City, and former member of the Greek Parliament for SYRIZA, who quit after Tsipras agreed to austerity.
“Any alternative political proposal from the Left needs to address the entire spectrum of the forces resisting the course adopted by the country’s elites during the past decade. It must formulate policies that respond to the burning problems of Greek society. The quagmire faced by the country is so deep that only broad social and political alliances can address it,” they said.
After his humiliating defeat, Tspiras changed the party’s name to SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance and is trying to rebuild it and take down New Democracy but recent polls show it’s still 7.5 percent behind.
As for an alternative, the site said that, “For such a political proposal to have any hope of success, it must have at its core the convergence of the forces of the radical left,” a term the writers said that SYRIZA can no longer claim.
The long-term objective would be to enable the radical left to act as a catalyst for the broader alliances that Greece desperately needs to get out of the quagmire,” they added, pointing to MeRA25 radical positions.
“The differences in political practice and the lack of a shared interventions in social struggles create real difficulties for the organizations likely to be involved. But these are not insurmountable. The days ahead are grim for Greece’s working people and the younger generations. The least the Left could do would be to create the conditions for a fresh start – drawing on past experience, but looking to the future,” they finished.