Greece in chaos: will Syriza’s last desperate gamble pay off?, por Paul Mason:
If it all ends on Monday, with the Greeks voting for austerity in order to keep the euro, the first far-left party to hold office in modern Europe will be judged by its critics a failure. (...)
If they win, on the other hand, they will be seen as heroes by opponents of austerity across Europe.
But win or lose, Syriza in office has been a work in progress, impossible to read for people ignorant of Greece, let alone people who don’t know there are subcategories to moderate Marxism. (...)
It was the young people radicalised amid this landscape who pitched a tent camp outside parliament in 2011. They organised a movement most foreign journalists didn’t see: local assemblies in small squares across the city and its suburbs, where young mums, migrants and outraged pensioners could have their say. The communists denounced them; the socialists sent riot police to disperse them; Tsipras is said to have looked out of the window of his office and delared: those are the people who will put us into power.
But Syriza is different. Syriza is a coalition whose colours are red for socialism, green for ecology and purple for feminism. But it is primarily red. It was born out of Eurocommunism – when the communist parties of the west declared loyalty to parliamentary democracy instead of Moscow. Its most influential activists are aged 50 and above: people who have read all three volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital, plus the Grundrisse, Theories of Surplus Value and Friedrich Engels’ Anti-Dühring. A lot of them are MPs now, or special advisers: you’ll find them in greying huddles in their old haunts – the radical bars and cafes of Exarchia and Plaka. (...)
Their strength was that they understood the significance of the youth revolts of 2008 and 2011. Some pitched their own tents in Syntagma Square and were tear-gassed out of it. But in the process, the party built something more official and resilient. (...)
Yannis Dragasakis, Greece’s deputy prime minister, was in many ways the embodiment of Syriza’s long-term dreams. His team of advisers included those most attuned to the “horizontalist” agenda emerging out of the networked social movements; people whose main desire was to nurture the 70-plus small-scale economic experiments they had promoted: local currencies, Wi-Fi networks in the mountains, producer co-ops.
But Dragasakis was given “operations”: to operate the government, to firefight the banking system, to sort out the state energy company. Those who expected his department to unleash a wave of entrepreneurship and experimental projects have had to wait. (...)
The ultimate question for Syriza, with the banks closed and the referendum due, is: can it now function as a movement? It has ridden to power on the back of social movements but, unlike Podemos in Spain or Sinn Féin in Ireland, has never really been a mass movement itself. (...)
We meet at a council-run clinic where, after midday, the official GPs and psychiatrists give way to a team of volunteers. It is run this way because the austerity under the previous govenrment means they can’t staff the clinic with paid employees. The volunteers include doctors, psychologists and qualified pharmacists, but I find them engaged in the menial task of hand-sorting donated medicines. They note the sell-by dates, count the pills and sort them. This is Syriza’s mass base – but it is not Syriza.