In the pit …

Is the electoral success of SYRIZA in Greece a new beginning for the European left or an ideological nightmare?

SYRIZA (United Social Front or ‘Coalition of the radical left’) failed by the tiniest of margins, two seats, to win an overall majority.

REUTERS correspondents, George Georgiopoulos and Angeliki Koutantou, were claiming that (Wednesday 28 January) that Alexis Tsiparis (new Greek prime minister) was continuing with SYRIZA’s commitment to anti-austerity measures but that ‘financial markets’ were falling. This is not what REUTERS were saying 24-hours earlier. I know how REUTERS works; editorial consistency has never been a strong point. I should know; I was a foreign correspondent with them for several years and half of my right leg was blown off as a result. Of course, that could have been down to my own stupidity. Getting in a taxi in Sarajevo was not one of my brightest moves.

Nonetheless, it was being claimed that the Euro (€) had risen against the US dollar ($) and British sterling (£) despite the electoral success of an anti-austerity radical left party. Get used to it! SYRIZA may not have a ‘revolutionary Marxist’ programme out of some text book but this is not 1915; it is 2015. Again … get used to it! If you’re silly (or, in fact, stupid enough) to believe that today revolutionary socialists can storm some kind of ‘Winter Palace’ and declare a ‘workers’ state’ then I think you may require therapy.


SYRIZA has formed a government, in the short-term — we’ll have to see, with a nationalist right-of-centre grouping, Independent Greeks. They are also anti-austerity but, also, anti-immigration which SYRIZA has clearly said it is not. A marriage made in hell? Think about that conundrum. You’ve probably never been married to a skilled family lawyer. My advice — for what it’s worth, which is probably not very much but donations will be acceptable — is DON’T!

Where does that leave the radical/revolutionary left? At odds with itself; hardly the first time! Much of the British left (and Europe … and internationally) have never been to keen on ‘nuances’. Well … welcome to the ‘real world’. You may well find something of interest in Trotsky’s early twentieth century love letters (if you’re ‘kinky’) but I very much doubt you’ll find a solution to capitalist-crisis 2015-style. Let me rub it in again — it’s a subject I’ve covered before — but we, revolutionary/radical socialists, need a ‘new’ type of programme. Hard work! Revolutionary change doesn’t happen by magic. That’s a shame; it would be so much easier to wave my revisionist Marxist wand and …

SYRIZA have even indicated that they will talk to the KKE (communist party) which in previous articles/posts I have described as “ultra-sectarian” and “Stalinist” — in fact, they often seem to hate everybody, possibly, even, themselves. I don’t expect those discussions to go far. The KKE don’t like Tsiparis — an ‘euro-communist’ splitter in their eyes — (perhaps he went to Italy and read too much Gramsci). Apparently, they have portraits of Rosa Luxemburg in the SYRIZA Athens office! How appalling is that?

Podemos (“we can”), in Spain, maybe taking a similar road. Insofar as we have any obligations we need to learn from these parties examples.

We don’t know what is going to happen. Oh dear! Revolutionary/radical socialists do not tend to be very keen on the ‘unexpected’. It’s not in the ‘text book’ ✪

Copyright © Roland Wood for Storyboard4 January 2015 or follow @Storyboard4