I stood on a hill and I saw the Old approaching,
but it came as the New.
It hobbled up on new crutches which no one had ever seen before
and stank of new smells of decay which no one had ever smelt before.
Bertolt Brecht, “Parade of the Old New,” 1939.
Bertolt Brecht’s words leave us with a bitter sweet aftertaste when we read Syriza’s central slogan for Greece’s parliamentary election on 20 September: “Getting rid of the old; winning the future; looking only forward”.
The call for new parliamentary elections was a desperate attempt by the presidential team of Syriza to survive the growing wave of popular indignation at their betrayal and simultaneously to establish the basic political prerequisite of the new Memorandum, namely to cleanse Syriza of the Left Platform.
The bourgeois parties, ND, Golden Dawn, Pasok, Potami, and the new pro-memorandum Syriza, should be voted down. The aim of the vote should be to give the left parties (Popular Unity, KKE, Antarsya) a mandate to form a truly leftist government, committed to eradicate the Memoranda, austerity and capitalism, and grounded in the active mobilisation of working people.
The revolutionary left should cement politically the new “Popular Unity” party formed by leftist fighters from the old, betrayed Syriza.
The bourgeoisie and its international allies want the ballot box to produce a national salvation government able to implement the barbaric Memorandum, but also to absorb the social shocks and the reactions it will cause. Around the dipoles “within the Eurozone at all cost against the disastrous return to the drachma,” “bailout rather than bankruptcy,” the ruling class seeks to consolidate a wide pro-memorandum consensus which limits political confrontation to who can best manage the Memorandum. The consensus would be based on the 220 MPs who voted in parliament for the third memorandum.
There is a massive trend towards abstention and an explosion of undecided voters, but the week up to the vote on 20 September is expected to be dominated by the dilemma “ND or Syriza”. The threat of ND winning the election concerns all left, progressive forces. But the primary responsibility rests with the leadership of Syriza, who “resurrected” the losers in the referendum over new austerity with their conversion of “no” to “yes”.
Now the leadership of Syriza takes the third Memorandum and its full implementation for granted, and poses the question: Who is best... to implement the Memorandum? Syriza or ND? Tsipras or Meimarakis?
Indeed, Alexis Tsipras in Thessaloniki said that any thought of renegotiation are dangerous. Asked if he had to do some self-criticism for having promised abolition of Memoranda and instead brought a new Memorandum, he said that Syriza now “leaves the past behind and looks ahead. “
The most critical issue in this election, more critical than the “ND and Syriza” dilemma, is to express politically on the left the referendum’s “no” to the Memoranda and austerity. That is the only way to stop the ascent of the Nazis of the Golden Dawn to third place in the poles.
Popular Unity has support from large sections of the left base of Syriza (the Left Platform, Youth, part of the trend of 53, etc.) Beyond the left components with Syriza, the Popular Unity has gained the support of a significant number of organizations of the extra-parliamentary left. It has triggered effectively a split within Antarsya. ARAS and ARAN have joined Popular Unity, as well as Xekinima, the “1000 initiative” and other personalities of the left such as the journalist Petros Papakostantinou, a historic member of NAR.
On the other hand, Popular Unity has not created excitement in the world of the left and in society in general. There are a number of reasons for this. The first is objective: the general disappointment and lack of confidence created by the subordination of Syriza. But there are also subjective reasons.
Key leaders of Popular Unity were an organic part of the Syriza party leadership for too long. Its vagueness and political ambiguity is reminiscent of an overcooked version of the 2012 Syriza, mixed with a flavour of a national road to a long distance socialism.
For all that, Popular Unity is the main electoral vehicle that attempts to express the world of “OXI”, the working class resistance, the youth and the popular strata.
The central duty of the left should be the creation of a mass left which will be ready to clash with lenders and with the EU, will refuse to repay debt, will proceed with the nationalisation of the banks, the nationalization of the key sections of the economy under social and workers’ control and management, so they can plan the economy for the needs of workers and society rather than the profits of a handful of ship-owners, bankers and contractors, knowing that this will mean a conflict with the EU and exit or expulsion from the eurozone. This left must also understand of the need for common struggles with European and international movement, and be fully democratic internally.
The necessary condition of this process is the ideological and political building of a Marxist left that detects the irreconcilable antagonisms of interest between the working class and the capitalist class and is struggling to connect with them, to ground them and bring them into the political spotlight. The antidote to the pro-capitalist Memorandum mutation of Syriza is not a drachma-currency mutation of Syriza’s 2012 social programme, nor a drive for “national sovereignty” and “progressive productive development”.
The revolutionary left must be in the vanguard of a regroupment and re-invigoration to transform the 5 July “Oxi” into an emphatic “Nai” (yes) to social liberation and universal human emancipation, workers’ power, the socialist unification of Europe and the world, and universal libertarian communism.