Lessons from Syriza’s Defeat

Published on teleSUR english, by Jerome Roos, Aug 27, 2015.

Far more than regaining state power to exit the euro, the challenge for the Greek left is to build the social power that can sustain a radical rupture.

Now that Alexis Tsipras has resigned, Syriza has split and Europe’s first radical left government has been brought to its knees in less than six months’ time, it is time to reflect. What have the experiences of the past half year taught us? And how does the struggle move on from here?  

The first and most obvious lesson is that there is no space for democracy, let alone for a socially progressive alternative, inside the Eurozone. Of course this was clear long before Syriza came to power, but there were still many among the European Left – Tsipras and his inner circle above all – who seemed to harbor a naïve belief that the monetary union could somehow be made a little bit more humane.

The dramatic failure of Tsipras’ negotiating strategy has now made it abundantly clear that these were, unfortunately, pipe dreams. The Eurozone has its virulently anti-democratic and anti-social nature hard-wired into its institutional framework; the structural constraints on government action – especially for a small and heavily indebted peripheral country like Greece – are simply far too great.

The only way to democratize the euro is to smash it … //

… The real challenge, then, is not just to regain state power and propose Grexit as an alternative top-down solution to the economic crisis, but rather to start building forms of social power that can push for meaningful political transformation from below and create the collective capacity to sustain social reproduction in the face of the serious short-term hardships that the radical rupture of an eventual Grexit would entail.

This means mobilizing society in the streets, workplaces and neighborhoods; it means building those democratic organs of popular power from the bottom up; it means doing away with vertical party structures, actively encouraging popular participation in the political process, and institutionally subordinating leaders to the movement. But most of all, it simply means creating the social conditions under which no leftist leader could possibly consider betraying their democratic mandate again.

Until then, continued calls for Grexit will remain little more than an empty and ineffective campaign slogan.

(full text).


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