February 2014        

A Greek Obama

Aléxis Tsípras and the SYRIZA party have become the new poster boys of the “left” in Europe, somewhat similar to the hysteria of Obama’s initial nomination and presidential election campaign. Indeed Tsípras has quoted Obama and suggested that his policies are applicable to Greece too.
      So this is what the left in Europe is scrambling to? Well, in reality it’s only what parts of the lost social-democratic left and the opportunist ultra-left are scrambling to. And Tsípras will lead to as much disillusionment and disappointment as the Obama regime in the United States has done, leaving a lasting negative effect on a new generation of often well-meaning activists.
      In June 2012, before the Greek elections, Tsípras took to the Financial Times—the most honest and open class-conscious voice of the bourgeoisie—to assure the rich that he and SYRIZA are a safe pair of hands. Blaming the Greek people, echoing the German-led narrative on the Greek crisis, Tsípras declared he would clean up their inefficient and corrupt system (inefficient for whom? the readers of the Financial Times?) and deliver real growth (i.e. restore capital’s profitability).
      SYRIZA, Tsípras claimed, is the only movement in Greece that can safely stabilise the system to the benefit of the euro zone, and presumably the readers of the FT. Going further, he suggested that SYRIZA will push for a more unified Europe and a pan-European “solution.”
      Tsípras then went on to assure the representatives of business that he is on their side. “The healthy businesses here have nothing to fear from a government that’s going to try to stop this poison. Healthy businesses understand that austerity curbs consumption.”
      While the SYRIZA position on repudiating the debt is a progressive one, it’s clear from a variety of interviews Tsípras has given that this is really a negotiating position, to threaten the euro in order to secure reforms in the Greek memorandum of understanding with the EU. “It’s true, I like to play poker . . . Our goal is to shake them . . . They need to change the policies in Greece and change the policies in Europe, otherwise Europe will be at very large risk.”
      The portrait of Che Guevara in his office, or his lack of a tie, cannot cover the fact that Tsípras is devoid of class analysis and if in government—much like Obama—would merely manage capitalism in a superficially less offensive way while pushing for further EU integration and unification, strengthening corporate control in Europe, and hollowing out even further the democratic structures of member-states.
      The call for a united left in defence of the euro and its political institutions is no left at all. To think one can build socialism while ignoring, or actually supporting, the political and economic structures of imperialism is as ludicrous today as the unionist-socialism of William Walker that Connolly argued against a century ago. Those throughout Europe who link with Tsípras and SYRIZA, and not with the class-conscious PAME and KKE, are in fact favouring a managed and controlled saving of capitalism at workers’ expense.
      It’s time the “left” grew up and called this for what it is: liberal, classless, opportunist electoral politics that is damaging working-class organising and struggle.

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