One of the most important generals (General Patton) had the maxim “speed in decision-making, accuracy in accomplishment”. SYRIZA now needs exactly that. It must take advantage of the bewildermentof its opponent. It must quickly reorganise all of it’s people (who have experienced joy and taken strength from the electoral result) and increase it’s pressure on the opponent. It must do so without allowing him the ability to re-organise. SYRIZA must again invite the people to the city-squares. It must organise discussions for the day after. It should draw people towards a decisive political victory. It must believe it. Others must believe it. We must believe it.
As a contribution towards understanding the voices and energy coming out of Greece at the moment, this blog will try to regularly translate articles that have been written in Greek. Some will be from leaders and established thinkers. Others will be from rank and file activists. This article was written by a youth activist, Dimitris Karamanis, from the SYRIZA youth wing. It gives a vibrant account of the expectations of young activists at this historic and fluid time in Greek politics.
The Possibility of Victory
Modern Greek political history gives the impression of an enduring clash of two armed camps of the Left and of the Right. A clash defined by moments of tension, détente and peace. Yet a clash which never had the Left as it’s clear winner. That is, until Sunday. The 25th of May 2014 is a milestone for generations of activists, leftists and communists. The dream of an electoral victory became a living reality.
Sunday 25th added another element of history. The Left gained control of the administration of the biggest Regional government in the country – plus a series of big municipalities in Athens and the regions. It is not the first time that people from the Left will be found in such posts. It is however, the first time where the Left is managing to do so without the support of social democrats or with other “self-governed personas”.
This victory of the Left in Greece, comes at a time of a pan-European swing towards the right. The backing of the far-right in countries such as France, Denmark, Austria, England is the absolute expected result of the strategic options pursued by the EU. It is the expected result, in countries where the Left cannot yet see beyond the defeat of the ‘90s decade. It is the political result of a segregationist policy at multiple levels. Northerners against Southerners. Developed against developing. Whites against blacks. Indigenous against invaders. Christians against Muslims.
The Left’s victory and the working class
The imperative for SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) under these conditions (to enable its survival) is to use it’s new improved position in order to serve the people who sustained it. SYRIZA is primarily the party of the youth, the poor, the unemployed. They are the ones who “responded” to the language spoken by SYRIZA and to the dilemmas which it highlighted. The ‘social issue’ (articlulated by SYRIZA) stacked up against ‘national stability issue’ and it won. That’s the most crucial verdict. The oppressed classes voted against the “salvation of the homeland”. They opted instead for the country to take the path of the so called ‘adventure’ (Ed note:reference to the mass media line that ‘the people do not want to go on any left adeventures into the unknown). They have indeed opted for adventures for the national contractors, the television-channel owners, the multi-nationals, the construction funds and the memorandum political staff.
Let us remember the period between the two elections in the summer of 2012. During that period, the neo-liberal political officials in Greece and Europe, suspended the implementation of the measures of the memorandum’s plan in fear of the probable victory of the Left. We find ourselves facing a possibility like that now. At this moment, Samaras and Venizelos are in a lose-lose situation. New measures and attempted constitutional revision will provide with mathematical accuracy their elimination in the next elections. Delaying and freezing the memorandum strategy means acceptance of their defeat and a slow political death.
Furthermore, the win of the Left in municipalities and regions, opens up possibilities for the immediate implementation of a plan, in opposition to the memorandum strategy. A 100 day plan with absolute dedication to social policy in the municipalities’ and regions’ with left administrations. The elected heads of regions and mayors, will pre-figure the first days of a national Left government. In such extraordinary circumstances, immediate actions are required without any hesitation and confrontations will occur where it is needed. If it is necessary for no wages to be paid for a period of time to the mayor and the municipal council, in order for a municipal clinic to be staffed, there is no dilemma. If it is necessary for the region to take charge of the operation and the strengthening of the social solidarity frameworks in areas in which the pro-memorandum mayors are indifferent, it will do so. If it is necessary for the municipalities/regions to have their legal services made available for the people (e.g. in regards to auctions and bad loans) it will be done. We have three months ahead of us in order to think and to work on specific issues and priorities. Before we go to the battle-front with the opponent, we must firstly take care of our wounded; the people who are found in our camp.
We must confront fascism
The strategy of arrests (of the government) andthe institutional condemnation of Golden Dawn, have worked in it’s favour. Systemic anti-fascism has nurtured a new tide of “anti-system” fascism. In 2012 Golden Dawn received a silent vote. In 2014 it had electoral representatives in half of Greece. People have been elected who are openly and publicly fascists. On the basis of this observation, there is no other option than to engage in the fight with fascism. Though this should not be scattered, unco-ordinated nor directed only to the people of the wider movement – as is characteristic many times.
First and foremost, a serious internal discussion is necessary and communication with all the organisations around Greece in relation to the meaning and the tacklingof the issue. There needs to be a swing towards anti-fascist work in the whole domain and for each member. We must finish with the destructive line of fascism (that it is the long arm of the system) and come face-to-face with its deep roots in the interior of Greek society. We must put up a fightwith every means possible for the memory and to keep alive the name of Pavlos Fyssas (Ed note:the Greek rapper killed by fascists in 2013) especially now that we have two mayors in his area.
All of these are connected to everything that was referred to in the above section. It is crucial for the willingness of the left to be proven in practise; it is crucial for it to confront in order to improve the life of the citizens, to the degree that it is capable of, wherever it takes charge of administration. Fascists will attract new audiences as long as their practises produce tangible results. We have the ability to produce results in peoples’ everyday life. This will restrict the living space of the fascists. As long as there are left self-governing authorities and mass mobilisations that daily confront every aspect of the memorandum strategy, there will be material results and the appeal to new audiences will grow. New audiences who until today, considered the thuggery of the neo-nazis as the only answer to poverty.
Victory will not be served to us by the opponent. We must serve him the defeat
The dynamics of SYRIZA’s victory should be used to it’s advantage in the immediate period. There is the option of waiting and of anticipating the collapse of the government by itself – with us simply observing. That option must be dismissed. We must always think in terms of social effectiveness and not party autarchy. We should think of this victory as a step toward the next round, which must come as soon as possible.
One of the most important generals (and one of the winners of World War 2) General Patton had the maxim “speed in decision-making, accuracy in accomplishment”. SYRIZA now needs exactly that. It must take advantage of the bewildermentof its opponent. It must quickly reorganise all of it’s people (who have experienced joy and taken strength from the electoral result) and increase it’s pressure on the opponent. It must do so without allowing him the ability to re-organise. SYRIZA must again invite the people to the city-squares. It must organise discussions for the day after. It should draw people towards a decisive political victory. It must believe it. Others must believe it. We must believe it.
Dimitris Karamanis, member of the SYRIZA Youth Wing
Translated from an article published in Avgi newspaper 27.5.2014