The ”Coalition of the Radical Left” ( SYRIZA ) in Greece has betrayed its voters and all those who hoped for a alternative to austerity and neoliberalism. On 22 June, the Greek government of Alexis Tsipras agreed to cut pensions and raise taxes. It also remains to be seen what kind of privatizations he will enforce now that SYRIZA has bowed to the troika of the EU, the IMF and the world capitalist institutions. SYRIZA was elected in January defeating the traditional conservatives and social democrats who carried out the demands of the EU and global capitalism. Alexis Tsipas promised change, but like Barack Obama he betrayed his voters as he did not dared to fight European capitalism!
Revolutionary socialists feared this would happen. SYRIZA had abandoned its radical leftist image since they became a big party on the Greek political landscape in 2012. In the last three years the coalition became a political party with moderate leftists like Alexis Tsipas in charge. These moderates come from another former leftist coalition build in the late 1980’s called SYNASPISMOS or Coalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology. This early coalition was formed around the Communist Party of Greece and other leftist parties. However the collapse of stalinism led to a rise in sectarianism in the communist party, which purged 45% of its leaders. Those purged turned SYNASPISMOS into a political party after the stalinists left the coalition!
SYNASPISMOS was unable to win much votes. This was because it lacked a socialist program and balanced between social democracy and socialism. Most Greek workers were at the time still loyal to the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement ( PASOK ) and the Communist Party of Greece ( KKE ). SYNASPISMOS could not become a third leftist force, between the pro-capitalist PASOK and Stalinist KKE. In 2004, SYNASPISMOS founded the Coalition of the Radical Left with other socialist groups. SYRIZA presented itself as an anti-austerity force, but remained a small coalition until PASOK betrayed the Greek workers in 2009!
With the economic crisis hiding Greece hard, PASOK enforced austerity and privatizations plans. As punishment they lost the first 2012 election to New Democracy, a right-wing conservative party. New Democracy was forced to work with PASOK and another social democratic party. Although the Greek government was made up of two (pseudo) leftist parties, the conservatives were the true masters. Like PASOK before them, New Democracy enforced brutal austerity causing poverty among many families. European capitalism demanded more cuts in pensions and Greece had to privatize its airports, harbors and other key state-enterprises. The European Union was unforgiving, the market was God, competition was King!
SYRIZA was able to profit from the right-wing government and won the January 2015 election. Still they needed a coalition partner and with the sectarian KKE refusing to work for a Socialist Greece, SYRIZA made a coalition with right-wing nationalists of the Independent Greeks. Both SYRIZA and the Independent Greeks reject European austerity, but on all other fronts they stand against each other. It is therefore stupid that Alexix Tsipas choose a government with right-wing nationalists. He should have called for a socialist government, even write out new elections to win a majority. But as a moderate socialist and a supporter of the European Union, Alexis Tsipas choose to compromise and now has capitulated before Brussels!
Six months after forming his government. Many Greeks start to feel betrayed. There is also huge disillusion in the ranks of SYRIZA, as many members start to realize that their leader is not fighting back. For the first time since the elections, there are many voices in the Greek working class saying “they’re all the same in the end” and that “SYRIZA is no different than the others”. This proofs that the Greek government is losing popular support. The sad thing is that it was all preventable had Alexis Tsipas carried out a socialist program. But SYRIZA lacked one, calling only for a stop of austerity. The European Union demands that Greece enforces right-wing economic politics, any genuine socialist should say to Brussels, GO TO HELL!!
The feeling of disappointment is also characteristic of the members of SYRIZA, who feel trapped and betrayed by their leaders. It feels that SYRIZA is abandoning some of its most important positions for which it was voted into power by the Greek people. A clear result of its social democratic tendency towards abandoning leftist ideals for ”economic pragmatism” as right-wing social democrats called it, after they betrayed socialism for neoliberalism. But the troika has not yet won. Greek workers must now act independent and resist the government. Massive strikes and demonstrations are needed to show that the Greek workers will not pay for the crisis of capitalism!
It is also up for the left-wing of SYRIZA to fight back. If the moderates around Alexis Tsipas are not removed then SYRIZA is lost like PASOK. The sectarian KKE justifies their rejection of forming a socialist government on the grounds that SYRIZA was not true revolutionary. It is true that they turned to the right in the last three years, but KKE could have changed this had they called on Alexis Tsipas to form a socialist government, that would build a Hellenic Socialist Republic. Instead the KKE rejected Tsipas fully!
Revolutionary socialists offer a alternative to compromises with the EU. We say:
Socialist measures means a series of steps, necessary for the functioning of the economy and for the survival of working class communities: nationalization of the banking system; nationalization of strategic sectors of the economy; an economic reconstruction plan based on national coordinating bodies by industry and between industries; the writing-off of the debts of small businesses and self-employed who were destroyed by the crisis; long-term interest-free loans to small businesses, professionals and small non-profit cooperatives; democracy in production, with social and workers’ control and management in all aspects of the economy, etc.