Why Support Syriza?
Spanish intellectuals on the Greek Radical Left and the Future of Europe
Sunday marks a key moment in the future of the European project. The Radical Left Coalition Syriza appears to have a very strong chance of winning or, at the very least, of making formidable gains and providing the anti-austerity left with an especially strong ally in the fight against neoliberalism. While I personally wouldn't go so far as to ask Greek people to vote for Syriza (they know their society better), it is no secret that the disintegrating European establishment fears Syriza and will stop at nothing to blackmail the Greek people into voting for the alternating parties. In the aftermath of a Syriza victory, it will be up to the people of Europe to support the democracy of hope or acquiesce to the tyranny of fear. Here are some thoughts from Spanish intellectuals:
JOSÉ LUÍS CARRETERO: To accompany the struggle of the Greek people against the anti-social measures of the Troika and of the most voracious capitalism means supporting all of its manifestations. One of these is that of Syriza. Those of us who do not share the uncritical faith in parlamentarianism as the genesis of deep social changes, but who do understand that certain things are not a matter of principles but of strategy, can consider it feasible to raise a defensive wall against the tyranny of debt and the political imposition of governments of national concentration imposed by the global oligarchy.
The present hour is too serious for pettiness or purities. It is the moment for meeting each other in the streets and the squares, to generate new embraces, to contaminate each other beyond the lines traced by senseless dogmatisms. It is in that place, dangerous and full of hope, where the working multitudes directly express their right to resistance, that we will recognise each other. That is the indispensable place that traces the borders. And, whereas effective commitment against cutbacks and misery is displayed through deeds, we will travel together the path toward dignity opened up by the Greek people and we will support all manifestations of their creativity in resistance. If we share struggles, we will share the future.
ANDRÉS VILLENA: The eurozone seems to be preparing to strengthen itself internally, but without counting with the Republic of Greece. The new left party represents the best synthesis between Europeanism, political solvency and criticism of the imbalances that have led us to this situation. From this force one hopes for the best negotiation with the creditor countries for remaining within, based on the condition of a proper restructuring of the debt and the possibilities of getting out of the snare that the troika has imposed on the Greek State.
JUAN DOMINGO SÁNCHEZ ESTOP: Rarely have I been angry at not being able to participate in elections. I know that, when these contribute toward the representation of the people, they silence the multitude by giving a voice to power. I do not accept elections that prevent me from deciding. Today, however, in Greece, for the first time in too many years, an election can constitute a decision, since one of the rising political forces, Syriza, represents something that power can never tolerate: the social movement that has made the reigning social order democratically unrepresentable and morally unpresentable.
Syriza occupies the vacuum of representation left by power, showing how the neoliberal looting of Greece, Europe and the world is incompatible with democracy, and it opens, as in Latin America, a space for the protagonism of the multitudes, of the everyday citizens. We are therefore witnessing a milestone in the difficult "conquest of democracy". For this reason, our Greek comrades smile and power puts on a face like a funeral.
LILIANA PINEDA:Syriza expresses the mass rejection by the Greek people, broad and sufficiently resounding, of the antisocial economic measures imposed by the European Union, which draw on the lies they have told us to justify the destruction produced by capitalism in its final phase: the complete financialisation of economies, which cyclically promotes the formation of unsustainable public and private debt levels, with the object of appropriating everything that exists, and which only obeys the predatory interest of big transnational corporations.
SALVADOR LÓPEZ ARNAL: We should support Syriza, and other forces of the Greek left, out of internationalist solidarity, one of the best values of the left that has not given in, and because in Greece what is at stake -as has been at stake in other occasions and will happen in the future until the economic, political and social framework in Europe and the world is no longer what it is, an avaricious civilisation that is the enemy of humanity, of republican virtues and of Nature itself- an essential stage of the struggle that the European peoples are generating against the exploiters of workers, from the most disadvantaged sectors, against the destroyers of the Earth, against those who are prepared to consign justice, freedom and equality to the trash can of History.
Some years ago, Mrs Thatcher, a very representative figure of the soulless neoliberalism in which we are obliged to live, said it with clarity and ultraconservative arrogance: 'Economics are the method; the object is to change the soul." And they have continued with that. Syriza, other left forces and the outraged Greek citizens, who are combative and rebellious, are not proepared to let the same vampires as always to suck their blood, our blood, and to unceremoniously break their soul and ours into a thousand pieces. They want it all, even with the risk of ecosuicide. Faust is their reference point and any trace of humanity generates guffaws in their boards of directors and their government meetings.
MIGUEL MANZANERA:We need to find a new model of social organisation, since industrial capitalist civilisation is in deep decay. It is a crisis that takes on multiple dimensions in the short, medium and long term. In the short term because neoliberalism has brought us a deep economic crisis, due to the deregulation of the market and the lack of control over production, both promoted by conservative governments. The economic depression in Europe will be lasting, and the hegemony of global development will move to other continents in the medium term, especially towards the region of the Far East. In the long term, the unsustainability of capitalism will make a new mode of socialist production necessary, which makes it viable for human society to exist in balance with the earth’s resources and demands on the environment. Syriza’s victory will place the Greeks on the right road to finding rational responses to this historic juncture. That will help us all.
BEATRIZ GIMENO:Because finally, after a long time, it is a real opportunity to change things. Because for the first time in a long time, decades, a discourse of the left, one truly critical of capitalism and focused on a structural change, has the opportunity of reaching power; for what that means not only for the Greeks, but for all the European left. One part of it, the mainstream left, a prisoner of so many concessions to the right that it has become unrecognisable and indistinguishable from the right, and the other, conditioned until now by their lack of real power which was, on many occasions, a real inability to reach it. In this sense Syriza can mean a real ideological bombshell for capitalism; the possibility of destroying the false axiom that there is no alternative.
SANTIAGOALBA RICO:A fatal snare seems to be closing in on Europe. Hostages of an exhausted system and of a mercenary and criminal economic management, the European population has become easy pickings for neo-populist and neo-fascist temptations. Is this our destiny? A return to misery and dictatorship. Syriza all of a sudden marks another path: the very possibility of reversing, from Greece, the fatalism imposed by the banking sector and the troika. That is why a ferocious campaign tries to intimidate and terrorise the Greek electorate. That is why, furthermore, we have to understand that the victory of Syriza will be the victory, not of a party, no, but of all of us who struggle for another Europe and another possible world. It may be that there will not be another opportunity. Syriza is standing in the Greek elections; but their votes decide the future of an entire continent.
JORGE MORUNO:Syriza has emerged as the hope that extends across Europe, regarding the possibility of interrupting further financial automatism. Syriza is driven forward by an active and politicised citizenry, who view the break with the regime and with the neoliberal path as the only way of imagining other ways of distributing wealth and the burden of guilt.
Winning the elections assures nothing, but it is an important step. It remains to be seen how it confronts and sees off the most reactionary sectors within its borders at the same time as it contends with the troika. There is also the complicated task of keeping balance with one foot in the parliament and another in the movement. The wind looks like it can change direction, we will have to wait, but there can be no doubt that this favourable wind needs the breath of other European peoples pushing, so that it is Greece the finally pulls the rest of us along.
LOLA MATAMALA: I am not Greek, I don’t live in Greece, I haven’t even visited it, but I have been observing its people for nearly two years. I looked on in admiration when they took to the streets. I looked on with nervousness when I saw that they were placing their silent bodies in front of that parliament that was deciding if it would seek the second bailout. I looked on with frustration when the political arm of the banking mafia cleared the way, for the second time, for robbery. I looked on with sadness on seeing that the occupiers of that square were invisible beings because there still exist people who are blind and have wooden hearts. Months later, in May, a sickness of it all turned into 16% for Syriza and it became the third most voted party.
Now the Greeks, with summer about to begin, are allowed to speak once again through the insufficient -but the only one in effect under the imposed system- electoral mechanism. Syriza, which is the farthest left party in the country, has many possibilities of leading a devastated Greece towards the end of the abyss because those who belong to this party do not want to obey the Troika and they propose auditing the biggest culprit: the debt. In this way, their programme locks in premises for a just judgement and brings back mechanisms for rowing in the direction of decent, just and coherent ways of life in a moment when it is more visible than ever how the men in black have got into the veins of the citizens of this polis born out of democracy. I write all these lines only a few kilometres from the capital of another State recently taken over by the evil dark suits. Meanwhile, I keep looking on at what the country of Athena decides. Now, I look on in hope for them too.
JÓNATHAM F. MORICHE: In his speech to the Fourth Congress of the Communist International in 1922, Lenin refers to the question of inflation in the young soviet republic: "we do not think that the figure is so very important, for the zeroes can always be crossed out. We have achieved a thing or two in this art.. and I am sure that in the further course of events we shall achieve much more." The transcriber notes: ‘Laughter’. We have seen something of this mocking attitude of the Bolsheviks in Syriza's electoral campaign. It is the same combatively joking expression of a politics that strengthens based on the conviction that the zeroes of bad economics can be legitimately and effectively cancelled by the authority of a good government.
And we are not simply talking about Greek zeroes: it is inevitable that a Greek debt audit like the one proposed by Syriza will become an audit of the entirety of European neoliberal phantasmagoria and of the monstrous mountain of zeroes dumped on our heads by the IMF, the ECB, the ratings agencies, the business press and the rest of the lodges and brotherhoods of the great market. If Syriza does in the end reach government and persists in its challenge to this superstitious dictatorship of the zeroes, we will see all the rage of the capitalist powers of the continent unleashed on Greece. It will be the time to intensify, multiply, diversify and interconnect all points of resistance and attack against those powers the full length, breadth and depth of Europe, until their power of aggression is sapped. It is in this dynamic of active political solidarity that the Greek experience can become a European opportunity, from its example and its defence becoming the catalyst for that federation of emancipatory political subjects that historical conditions have been demanding for some time.
JUAN PEDRO GARCÍA DEL CAMPO: Because a vote for Syriza in these elections is not just one more bet on the terrain of representation or governance. To vote for Syriza, at the present juncture, is not to choose its candidates to manage the future by giving them carte blanche to act in anyone's name, but entirely the opposite: it is the way of expelling from power those managers of the new expropriation of the commons taking place at a European level and, by doing so, opening up the real possibilit of taking decisions on the commons beyond and against those who demand obedience to the dictates of "the economic". Voting for Syriza means that the managers of governance do not get elected.
The leaders of Syriza are under no illusions in this regard and they are aware that winning elections is not equivalent to holding power. This is not a minor matter: that they view things in this way, now, is a symptom that they know where sovereignty is won (and where it is not) and in what conditions it can (or cannot) be exercised. This clarity is one more reason to think that we are not talking about a party that seeks the vote like any other, but about the real possibility of opening up a space for democracy.
PATRICIA RIVERO: For a long time the Greeks have been the "sudacas" [derogatory Spanish term for Latin Americans] of Europe alongside the rest of the Mediterranean countries. In Latin America, for decades and decades, the people were the victim of structural adjustment plans carried out by international organisations such as the World Bank, the IMF, and the Paris Club, while at the same time big capital crushed the resources of humans and nature. We were devoured by these beasts, we hit rock bottom, and for a long time...
But some years ago Latin America began to see the light, it believed that an alternative to the dictates of neoliberalism existed, and today the region is growing in strength, autonomy and sovereignty. When there is suffering and people have been systematically flagellated, the time comes for change and for getting out onto the street and getting angry, to break with this criminal neoliberal system. It is time for this "sudaca" Greece today, after so many falls, to see the light. The moment has come in which the voters of Europe cannot pretend not to hear the alternative message. "If the present is one of struggle, the future is ours", said Che Guevara. Greece today has in its hands the opportunity to see that light, and that light and that future is Syriza.
RAIMUNDO VIEJO VIÑAS: To speak of Syriza today is to speak of the future of Europe, and of the recovery and advance of democracy, of the reopening of the political, of so many things that a mere list of headlines would take us more than a thousand pages. For those who don't remember, there was another 17-J, in 1953, when the workers of the GDR rebelled against the lack of life, the working conditions and the measures imposed by an authoritarian bureaucracy.
Around that time Bertolt Brecht wrote a poem which he ended with irony: "would it not be easier in that case for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?" The irreducibility of the social body to technocratic automatism, of life given to power, is no less what is at stake next Sunday. Syriza is the nearest Europe has to a rescue of the 99%. Not because it is a panacea, or a solution, not even because they are "our people": but only (and today this is everything) because it is the option for restoring to the political arena what should never have left it.
ÍÑIGO ERREJÓN: The diktat of the debt and the consequent blackmail of peoples unfolds, in Europe, on a terrain fertilised by decades of narrowing down and subordination of politics to apparently technical reasoning, and of the devastation of identitarian, cultural and intellectual reference points for the left. Thus, the crisis can be represented in the dominant discourse as an atmospheric phenomenon, which threatens a population that is undifferentiated in the impacts it suffers and in its responsibilities. If the oligarchisation of European political systems places ever more aspects of social regulation "safely beyond" popular sovereignty, liberal technocratic discourse places the elites "safely beyond" the communities who rule.
Greece has spent years as a paradigmatic example of the gall of the ruling caste, of the blackmail of a people hit with draconian austerity measures, of the reduction of politics to a pact among elites and the exercise of discipline and production of resignation for those below. The possibility of a Syriza victory in the elections of the coming 17th June is undoubtedly the most important fact for the European left since the beginning of the century. It means, its mere possibility, a brave and emphatic "Yes we can!": yes we can recover politics from its oligarchical kidnapping; yes we can dare to play the game -conscious of its limitations and its difficulties- against the troika and financial capital, daring to govern in turbulent times; yes we can bring about a hegemonic intervention which, in the context of the dislocation of the social that the crisis brings with it, can articulate the different troubles and sufferings in a broad and flexible national-popular identity that can successfully win the political power that is accessible by electoral means.
Syrizais a “Yes we can”, the irruption of the unexpected, not under ideal conditions as per the instruction manuals but in the really existing ones, which are complex and never ripe. It is the audacity to open up, from a situation of political decomposition, the possibility of change in favour of subaltern classes. Syriza is the warning to the European oligarchy: the latinamericanisation of European politics is a boomerang, and it brings with it the possibility of the rupturing exercise of popular sovereignty.