Sunday, 25 January 2015

Syriza is not the story

Syriza, the party of the radical left in Greece, is not the whole story - nor even the bulk of it. Syriza has been around for a while: leftover Eurocommunists and Trotskyists dissatisfied with both Third Way Pasok and the Stalinist KKE, until very recently they troubled few polls. But their organisational dynamism and openness to the social movements - and most importantly the social innovations happening on the streets of Athens - made them the perfect electoral vessel for new radicalism.

The successes of any radical politics are driven by shifts in emphasis between the Party and popular mobilisations. Syriza was the beneficiary of Athens' Syntagma movement. Yet as that mobilisation abated along with the constant rounds of strikes and near-insurrectionary protests, the movement settled into more long-termist social and cooperative projects. Provision of basic healthcare and foodstuffs - as I've mentioned before on this blog - form the organisational backbone of the social movements. Syriza feeds off of these largely urban, youth-led projects. It is from them that it must draw strength following the elections, especially as they enter the no doubt harrowing debt negotiations with the ECB that await them.

No one should doubt the Syriza leadership's economic brains however. Yannis Varoufakis is one of Europe's best heterodox economists - and a leading voice in Syriza. His account of the 2008 crisis The Global Minotaur is among the best- and truly global in scope. They will enter negotiations with this vision in mind - especially Varoufakis's proposal for a Europe-wide "surplus recycling mechanism" capable of publicly controlling the combustible flows of finance. But they as an isolated leadership of an isolated political party cannot achieve the debt reductions Greece needs alone. New mobilisations throughout Greece will be necessary. Militancy and strikes in Greece's weary organised labour movements are essential. As are the newer, non-production based social movements. The pendulum must swing back from organisation to mobilisation.

Greece will also need European anti-austerity solidarity. Syriza will no longer be engaged in national politics. The dialectical movement between Party and civil society will expand to cover all of Europe. Their capitulation will also be our failure. Yet European elites can be forced to compromise if the pressure is there. Syriza's victory in future negotiations, if it happens, will belong not only to the people of Greece but to all of Europe.

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