Interesting abstract from Academia. All papers on Academia can be downloaded and reprinted for free. Syriza was the radial left hope for Europe in the wake of the 2008 Depression in which Greece was hit perhaps worst of all. The Right says it was because of Greece’s tax and spend policies, but Greece’s taxes are not high, nor is it’s social democracy particularly robust. The true problem is massive corruption of the political classes at all ends of the spectrum combined with an absolute failure of the wealthy classes to pay as much as one nickel in taxes. In other words, The Latin American Disease (in part) because Latin America suffers from exactly these problems more than anything else.
Syriza had a very powerful voice in opposition to the Austerity Regime demanded by the EU out of Germany (Germany basically runs the EU and lays down the law). There were two ways out of the debt crisis. Either go into crisis austerity and sell off a good portion of their public lands and enterprises, or simply default on their debt and start all over again. Perhaps both would have been equally painful, but I think default would have been best.
As is, a good portion of Greece’s public lands and public enterprises (the health care system, national parks, electric grid, hydropower, a number of actual islands of the country itself) were sold off the lowest of capitalist parasites. Anyone think the national parks, electric grid, health care system, hydropower, and even the very islands of the nation itself will be any better off now that they are in the hands of a lot of greedheads? They’re not. Nothing good ever happens with any of these sell-offs of private enterprises.
Worse, the selling off of the very partrimony of Greece itself was combined with the worst austerity, elimination of health care and all social programs for the masses combined with massive job losses so the masses of unemployed could not count on any state help now that they could not pay their bills. In other words, the Greeks got the worst of both worlds. Austerity and selloff and they gained nothing at all other than emptied pockets and rifled and ransacked goods.
No one could pay for medical care or hospital beds either. Many people were thrown out of their homes because they could not pay the rent and shantytowns of former workers and even middle class people sprung up all over Greece. Some political parties, even the far Right Golden Dawn to their credit, stepped in to try to provide the social help that the state would not.
This was followed by the election of Syriza, which campaigned on not paying the debt and opposing austerity. As soon as they got in power, they quickly changed their tune. I don’t think they sold out so much as they did not have the guts to go through with the program. No doubt there were massive pressures on them to go through the standard austerity model. At any rate, Syriza did not default on its debt like Argentina and Iceland did (to little effect on their economies), and they implemented austerity with full force. They sold out the masses completely.
As they stayed in power, they moved more and more to the right. Now that they are out of power, they have moved even further to the right. There is a new rightwing government called New Democracy in charge about which I know little, except I assume they’re not real great. Syriza is now utterly unable to offer an alternative to ND, while ND has apparently completely failed in the COVID epidemic as most rightwing governments everywhere did, no doubt leaving many corpses in its wake.
We have the standard Latin American model here where the Right (call it the Conservatives in Colombia or ARENA in El Salvador) “the right wing of the oligarchy” is absolutely toxic, but the Left (call it the Liberals in Colombia, the AD and APRA “social democratic” traitors in Venezuela and Peru), etc. are simply the “liberal wing of the oligarchy,” which in practice means virtually no change at all.
AD in Venezuela has combined with the fascist Right to overthrow the Chavistas, backing every coup attempt of various flavors against the government. For all intents and purposes, they’re not much different from Guaido. AD was always just a party to split up the loot from the oil rents from the state oil company amongst the oligarchs and the upper middle class management of the company.
This is very discouraging and it sounds like Thatcher’s TINA (There is No Alternative) response to neoliberalism. Perhaps there is no alternative to neoliberalism and austerity in the EU model, which has always been based on neoliberal orthodoxy. Note that debt cannot exceed 3% of GNP in any given year. That’s far too low an amount of public spending to run a country decently. There was no reason to put that in other than for neoliberal orthodoxy which despises all public spending for whatever rationale they have for doing that, either ideological, war of ideas, or economic.
If the situation in the EU is TINA, then Brexit is the way to go. Greece and a few others have been threatening to do that, but the NATO fascist military alliance (NATO has always been run by the US) is the imperialist glue that holds the EU economic community together. A neoliberal economic community held together by a fascist imperialist army. What else is new? Straight out of Milton Friedman (“Neoliberalism cannot be imposed democratically; it must be imposed by dictatorship”) himself. It is very hard to leave NATO. Notice even the Brits didn’t do that. NATO may be an abusive spouse for many of the nations inside the alliance, but if so, most NATO countries are Stockholmed wives.
I don’t know what to say except that this is yet another sellout of the Left.
For all of their faults, the governments of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Argentina have refused to go this route. At the moment, Peru is also challenging this model. The penalty has been repeated coup attempts in most these countries, economic wars, and sanctions, but at least they didn’t sell out. I still think this sort of resistance is the way to go, painful or not.
Our existences have dignity or they are worthless. The EU model is the death of dignity. At least with the Pink Tide, those nations can hold their heads up amidst the ruins and say
At least we are free. We may be poor but at least we are free.
You know that’s got to be worth something.
Outside of the homeland, there is nothing.
– A famous Baath Party intellectual from Iraq
Whatever beefs I had with Saddam, and I had plenty; Hell, at least he was a nationalist in a time when such patriots are scarce and viewed as traitors to the International Globalist Elite based on multinational corporate rule over the rule of actual states. Governments are increasingly irrelevant now that billionaires and corporations have more money and power than many actual countries.
SISP Conference 2021, Online, 9-11 September 2021
SYRIZA back in opposition (2019-2021): Towards a new political direction?
Postdoctoral researcher, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
SYRIZA’s spectacular rise to power through a radical political proposal and a strong populist discourse has been the field of study of a large number of political scientists in recent years. Alexis Tsipras (Syriza’s leader) in opposition and in power expressed a strong inclusionary populist discourse, placing popular classes at a central position and opposing the political and economic establishment of the country and Europe.
SYRIZA, during its second term began to change its physiognomy, abandoning gradually its radicalism and embracing a typed of “political realism” and consensus, while it began to soften its populist intensity and passion. After the end of its rule (2019), it became clear that SYRIZA’s populism had nothing to do with the populist intensity and passion of the previous years.
SYRIZA (2019-present) continued to maintain some populist slogans and a kind of anti-elitism (e.g. “the many” against “the establishment”), but to a lesser extent.
Furthermore, a huge gap has been created between the party and the popular classes. SYRIZA can’t persuade, mobilize and lead the people against the right-wing government of New Democracy in a period of intense social discontent with the management of the pandemic and the economy by the Greek government and at a time when popular demands for democracy, justice, and labor protection are emerging.
In this presentation, I will present the main characteristics of SYRIZA’s political discourse after its defeat in the 2019 national election, attempting to find if the party continues to express a populist discourse or not through discourse analysis while underlining its new political direction. Furthermore, I will examine the reasons the rapid transformation of the party in a more mainstream and “realistic” direction.