Since the beginning of the crisis in 2008, the European ruling elites, institutions and governments have been trying to exit from it not by loosening the neoliberal austerity policies, which were highly responsible for the financial turmoil, but through their authoritarian intensification.
The start was made with the imposition to Greece and later to Ireland and Portugal of the unfamous Memoranda. Later came the Sixpack, the Fiscal Compact, the Twopack”, which apply to all EU countries.
Their aim was to frighten the European peoples and put one against the other in a competitive race to the bottom, by increasing austerity and social dumping. In the name of Europeanism, they fuelled national antagonisms and racial hatred, which in many countries increased the power of the nationalist, populist and extreme Right.
Unfortunately, most social democrats, instead of resisting to the degradation of democracy and the impoverishment of the lower classes, collaborated with the conservatives in the name of the so called national interest.
And then came SYRIZA and Tsipras. The spectacular advance and possible electoral victory of this formerly rather small, party of the Greek radical Left was rightly considered by its opponents, inside and outside Greece, as a real threat to neoliberalism not only in this small country of the periphery, but to Europe as a whole.
It is for this reason that they tried desperately to prevent this victory in all elections that took place after 2009, through a terror campaign which claimed that the success of the Greek radical Left was synonymous to national catastrophe.
Their propaganda had a partial success in the May and June 2012 elections, but failed blatantly in those of January 2015. This time hope defeated fear.
SYRIZA won this important battle, but the war against it has not stopped - in fact it has been intensified. From its first day in office, the Tsipras’ government became the target of a fierce attack by a “Holy Alliance” which was formed following the initiative of the German government and under its hegemony.
This Alliance consisted of the Troika (European Commission, ECB, IMF), all the EU governments (even those ruled or co-ruled by socialist, socialdemocratic or centre-left parties, like in France, Italy, Germany and Holland), by the ambitious German President of the European Parliament and his allies, by the mainstream media and, last but not least, by the rating agencies which act as official representatives and consultants of the financial markets.
The message to Tsipras and Varoufakis, the Minister of Economics responsible for the negotiations, was adamantly clear and cynical: SYRIZA should not implement the program under which it was elected, but successfully complete the one agreed between the previous government and the Troika. Until this happened, the country should not receive any of the agreed, regular installments from the “institutions”, while at the same time it should fulfill all its obligations to lenders (IMF, ECB, countries of the EU and private bond holders). The result was liquidity asphyxiation, together with the withdrawal of deposits from the Greek banks because of an increase in uncertainty.
The claim that this Troika demand was undemocratic, violated popular sovereignty and that the Greek economy and society had been destructed by the policies of the Memoranda, which at the same time did not succeed in their supposed target to reduce the unsustainable Greek debt, was rejected as irrelevant by the Allied Neoliberal Forces.
The Greek experiment had to be crushed at any cost, before it contaminated the rest of Europe. Tsipras’ government should either admit a humiliating defeat and capitulate or face the dire consequences of its disobedience, which could include a Grexit.
Everybody knows very well how important it is for our common cause that the Greek government is not defeated, that it will not be remembered after some time as a small “left parenthesis” in Greek history and a short-lived irregularity in the usual neoliberal process of the so called European integration.
We in transform! understand that, due to the extremely unfavorable balance of forces in the EU, the Greek government has to make some painful concessions, but at the same time we are confident that it will stand firm to its “red lines”.
We are also confident that SYRIZA will continue disappointing Mr. Junker, who recently complained that it is not a “normal” European political party similar to ND or PASOK.
SYRIZA should not be left alone in its continuing struggle against the forces of the aforementioned reactionary “Holly Alliance”. But piecemeal solidarity activities coming from various social and political actors, however important and necessary they are, have their limits.
What is urgently needed now is the establishment of a big European “Virtuous Alliance” of the Willing which, by fighting against neoliberalism and austerity in all European countries, can be the best supporter of SYRIZA and the Greek government.
It is true that a failure of SYRIZA will be a setback in the fight against austerity in all European countries. And it is equally true that the SYRIZA experiment will not be sustainable, unless there is a change in the European balance of forces. Whether we like it or not, the national and European levels are closely interconnected.
Our “Virtuous Alliance” should be broad, dynamic and diverse. Aiming to connect the social with the political, it should include parties of the Radical and Communist Left, Greens, Social Democrats who do not accept the neoliberal TINA, new radical political organizations with loose, progressive ideological orientations, trade-unions, social movements, intellectuals and active democratic citizens.
We should fight together for democracy, popular sovereignty, dignity, human rights, protection of the environment and against inequalities, poverty, racism, xenophobia and nationalism.
The confrontation with our opponents will be continuous and will take place in various fronts of all European countries: in the workplaces and in the streets, in parliaments and in courts, in universities and in schools, in the fields of ideas, art and culture and in the area of programmatic proposals.
Winning the war requires participating in everyday’s smaller and bigger battles, but also coordinating our struggle.
We know how to do it. Participants in this Forum of the Alternatives, but also those who were not able to attend it for various reasons, have a valuable know-how of working together. We achieved this skill through our participation-back in 1997-in the Euro-marches, in the ESF, in the anti-global movement, in the big anti-war mobilization, in the demonstrations in Prague, Genoa, Paris, Malmoe, Athens, Istanbul and Tunis, in the Alter Summit and in various other common struggles: against the Bolkestein Directive, against the European Constitution in which the No vote of the French people made all of us proud and happy and recently against the TTIP.
Let us keep up with this tradition, strengthening our solidarity and mutual trust and limiting, as far as possible, dogmatism and sectarianism.
Since its establishment, transform! has been trying to build a common European public space of dialogue, political thinking and alternative programmatic proposals, working together with the EL, its member parties but also other social and political actors.
It is obvious that in this new demanding period, we are ready to increase our already close cooperation with SYRIZA and contribute with all our means to the building of our European Alliance against neoliberalism and austerity.
Times are difficult, but there is hope. The fight of SYRIZA and of the Greek government is a source of optimism and inspiration for all of us, a fresh wind of political change is coming from Spain, trade-unions in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Austria, France, Ireland, Spain and Portugal fight against austerity in their countries and express publicly their support to the policies of the Greek government, the ETUC condemns openly-for the first time-the policies of the EU, solidarity movements are mushrooming in countries most severely hit by the crisis, the Churches are speaking out against injustice..
We can win. We shall win.
The article is based on the writer’s presentation in the Plenary “After the victory of Syriza an alliance to win the European showdown” of the Forum for Alternatives in Paris, 30-31 May 2015.