Nasos Iliopoulos: The burdens of SΥΡΙΖΑ

Edward Sakagian, "Read boat with travellers" Edward Sakagian, "Read boat with travellers"
Nasos Iliopoulos
Our enemy took us seriously. Our enemy believed that we truly are a systemic danger. Not economy–wise, but in terms of politics. We have been treated as a threat against the hegemony of the neoliberal paradigm. We have been treated as a paradigm ourselves; a paradigm that had to be crushed, along with every attempt at questioning neoliberalism and every hope of overthrowing this system across Europe.

We did not take ourselves that seriously. We never prepared ourselves for a real battle. What brought us to this point is the ease with which our strategy was planned on the basis of a best case scenario: we were going to reach a good agreement which would include debt reconstruction and financial support and therefore we would be able to put our political programme into operation, perhaps with some minor setbacks. The numerous concerns about the enemies’ plan expressed (sometimes aggressively) within Syriza remained mere words. They never sparked off the preparation of the upcoming battle.

During this period we provided our enemies with the space that they needed. How could we believe that we were preparing ourselves for the battlefield when we were not putting even the minimum of efforts to restrict the power of our enemy’s main weapons: banks and the mass media. It is outrageous that during all these months we have not passed through the parliament our own tax legislation which would allow us to find vital resources for our survival during this day-by-day battle. It is outrageous that we have not voted for the reinstatement of collective bargaining which would have provided working people with the means to fight for democracy and dignity at their workplaces.

There was a clear message for us on the 20th of February. The message was that humiliation of our left government would be a goal pursued at any cost. But this was not enough. All of our efforts and methods employed during these past few months may have been suitable for a quiet, peaceful period of bourgeois parliamentarism but certainly not for the current state of emergency.

None of our political and organizational functions have been adapted to the circumstances of a crisis. It appears that we are stuck to the routine of our pro-crisis normality. But if we want to seriously deal with the effortlessness with which Syriza does politics and if we aspire to prepare ourselves for a war we must tackle the ease that has been stigmatising the way in which we discuss inside the party. We must end the I-told-you-so mentality when talking through our problems. Sadly, the bourgeois way of doing politics and the culture of parliamentary cretinism have deep roots within us. Contrary to the ivory tower of mere theory, working class politics have always been a matter of practice and organization. Τhis is exactly where we have been put through our paces and have all proved to be too little.

So, what is to be done? Most likely, we are doing what seems to be the most convenient thing to do. Instead of facing the real problem, we will engage into another interparty battle. Ιt is true that Syriza’s programme was not pro-drachma. But it was not pro-MoU either. How did we reach this point of being left with two choices of which none is compatible with our programme? Is there a better proof of the limits of the strategy that we have followed?
First things first, we have to admit that we have reached a dead end. We also have to admit that every alternative strategy that we could have followed has already failed too. Additionally, we have to make another horrific admission. Even if we had prepared ourselves for the battle; even if we had made all the necessary moves during these past months we might sooner or later have found ourselves in the same position as now because of the weight of power relations that are, more clearly now than ever before, in favour of the imperialistic forces. Because fights are not won by those who are right but instead by those who are powerful.

What is the meaning of all of the above? First of all, we must avoid pursuing a different strategy that will result in the same mistakes. This is the strategy of an “agreed exit” which would reincarnate just the same illusion of hope as our former insistence on the certainty of a ‘mutually beneficial agreement’. There is no apparent reason why the forces that want to see Syriza fall apart will suddenly change their minds and offer a beneficial “agreed exit”. This does not mean that we do not have the responsibility to discuss from scratch our strategy concerning the EU. But at least this time let’s do it properly.

The dead end that we have now reached is both strategic and tactical. That is why we revert, perhaps subconciously, to something more familiar and convenient: the intraparty confrontation. The latter is the safest way to two equally disastrous solutions: either to consume ourselves in a ‘humane and considerate’ management of neoliberalism or to relapse into our former tactics of a minor political force. None of these choices can be an option.

In order to extricate ourselves from the position that we are in we need to preserve our collectiveness and to start re-planning in a most democratic manner. Surely there is not much time left. But it is equally true that we cannot create a plan for our own extrication just a few days after our greatest defeat. Of course, one condition remains. That is to acknowledge the current state of the country as a dead end that we must escape and not as a state of stabilization of the Greek economy or as an expectation for investments and growth.

We need to plot another strategy as soon as possible. From now on we have to only deal with tough questions.
How can we extricate ourselves? How can we escape from the blackmail?

What is our answer to the imposed suppression of democracy?

Which is the way to the organization of social resistance and to reactivation of people’s participation and action as our main weapons of defense against the unorthodox economic war that we are facing?
In this course, the only burden that we need to leave behind us is the “ease” with which we have learned to go about things.