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Greece

Greece: Open war against the majority in favour of the rich

Police attack protesting Greek shipyard workers in 2012.

By Afrodity Giannakis, Thessaloniki

April 7, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- New austerity measures were passed by the Greek parliament, albeit by a narrow majority, on March 30. The bill contained just three articles, which seem to give the final blow to remaining workers’ and pension rights, the country’s economy and public ownership of land and services.

Legislation usually passes by a narrow majority in Greece. In the current parliament, this majority has been mostly ensured by a change in the electoral law before the last election, according to which the winning political party gets a bonus of 50 extra parliamentary seats. As a result, New Democracy, the major party in the governing coalition, has a number of MPs quite disproportionate to the vote it got.

Europe: 'United we can win' -- interview with Alexis Tsipras

February 23, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- In December 2013, Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza), was elected as lead candidate of the Party of the European Left for the May 25, 2014, European elections.

The Party of the European Left unites many left parties from across the continent. The program of Tsipras’s campaign can be found on the website of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Tsipras’s candidacy is seen as symbolic of the fight for a different Europe — one that is ecological, peaceful, democratic and based on social justice. This is due to the Greek people’s resistance to the austerity policies that the “troika” (European Union, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund) have imposed on them and Syriza’s near-victory in the 2012 Greek elections on an anti-austerity platform.

Tsipras's candidacy has become especially symbolic of this fight in Italy, where a very divided left is looking for ways to come together. Tsipras was interviewed by Italian left daily Il Manifesto. It has been translated by Dick Nichols.

* * *

Alexis Tsipras: End austerity to regain democracy! For a democratic, social and ecological Europe!

Left.gr -- Alexis Tsipras, president of SYRIZA and candidate of the European Left party for the precidency of the European Commission, spoke on January 18, 2014, in a debate organised by the Dutch Socialist Party in Amersfoort. Here's the full text of his speech.

* * *

Your invitation, which I appreciate a lot, came at the right moment. Not because, as you might know, I am candidate of the European Left for the presidency of the European Commission. But because, yes indeed, democracy in Europe is in retreat. And this is the reason, the purpose and the real meaning of my candidacy: to end austerity to regain democracy.

Democracy is in retreat. And the reason is neoliberalism.

1. It is neoliberal austerity that causes recession, zero or low and jobless growth. With the Netherlands expected to reach in 2017 the real economic output level of 2008. Austerity brought youth unemployment in the Eurozone to the unprecedented 25%.

2. It is, also, the lack of transparency, lack of legitimacy and lack of accountability and credibility of the European institutions. The European Union is distant from the peoples of Europe in all respects. It has alienated its citizens. That’s why the people react with apathy, distrust and euroscepticism.

'Left reformism' and socialist strategy

Syriza supporters march. "Left reformists"?

By Ed Rooksby

October 7, 2013 -- International Socialism -- There has been a significant revival of interest among the radical left in “big picture” questions of socialist strategy that, as Mark L. Thomas has pointed out, represents a return to “important debates of the left largely absent over the last three decades”.1

It is not difficult to identify the major factors driving this. Several years of deep capitalist crisis together with the almost total capitulation of social-democratic parties across Europe to the austerity agenda have opened up a clear space to the left of these organisations—a development that has reinvigorated the radical left, but which has also forced it to confront fundamental questions of strategic orientation.

Greece: Political resolution of the first congress of SYRIZA

Over July 10-15, 2013, congress delegates of SYRIZA, the coalition of radical left parties in Greece, voted to form itself into a unitary party. This is the political resolution from the congress. Translation by Left.gr. For more coverage of the congress, click HERE. Read Alexis Tsipras' speeches to the the congress HERE..

1. The conference of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) is a continuity and a breakthrough in its course, which started in 2000, continued with its official founding in 2004, and was sealed when it took on the historic responsibility to deliver the Greek people from the catastrophic neoliberal memoranda policies that have turned our country into a debt colony and led its creative, social, and productive forces to marginalization.

Greece: Syriza after its founding congress -- views from the party's left

Alexis Tsipras addresses the SYRIZA congress.

For more on Syriza, click HERE. Read Alexis Tsipras' speeches to the the congress HERE.]

By Stathis Kouvelakis

July 18, 2013 -- Contretemps via International Viewpoint -- This article reflects on the founding congress of Syriza as a political party, rather than a coalition of fourteen organisations, which took place on 10-15th July 2013.

Grecia: El congreso de Syriza une sus fuerzas para un gobierno de izquierda

Alexis Tsipras.

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3446 and http://links.org.au/node/3448.]

Un Congreso que ha transformado a la izquierda griega Durante el fin de semana del 10-14 de julio, en el primer congreso de Syriza (Coalición de la Izquierda Radical), era obvio que la historia se estaba escribiendo continta indeleble. Este ha sido el congreso que cambió a la izquierda griega.

Ante el reto de sus perspectivas de crecimiento, que le abren la puerta de un futuro gobierno, la coalición de izquierda tomó la decisión de convertirse en un partido. Y ello explica la dinámica de este primer congreso, en el que todo se ha puesto sobre la mesa: desde los principios fundacionales hasta la orientación política y los estatutos. Y, por su puesto, en el que todo se ha discutido y clarificado las diferentes posiciones, siempre con una pasión típicamente griega.

Eyewitness report: 'Things have gone very quiet in Greece, haven’t they?'

Syriza congress: Alexis Tsipras (left), Manolis Glezos.

See also Helena Sheehan's "To the crucible: An Irish engagement with the Greek Left" published in January, 2013. For more on Syriza, click HERE.

By Helena Sheehan

July 29, 2013 -- Irish Left Review, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- “Things have gone very quiet in Greece, haven’t they?” So many people said that to me in the past six months or so. I responded that there was a lot going on, even if international media weren’t covering it. There were civil mobilisations of teachers and transport workers, as well as rising unemployment, emigration and impoverishment, being met with continuing protest, strikes, occupations.

Even so, I sensed a lull in the rhythm of resistance, since the big demonstrations opposing the passage of the third memorandum last autumn. Obviously people couldn’t keep going at that pitch all the time, but how many were succumbing to exhaustion, despair, defeat? How many were quietly going about their work in solidarity networks, policy development, political education?

Greece: Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras' call for a united left party (+ intro speech)

Alexis Tsipras addresses the congress.

The following speech was presented by party leader Alexis Tsipras to the Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) first national congress on July 13, 2013. One of the major decisions to be made at the congress was the question of forming a single united left party from the many left organisations that to that point operated as part of the coalition. Click HERE for a report on the congress.

* * *

Comrades,

Do you know what the message from the outside is? The message from an agonising and fighting society, with all the things that are going on in it?

The message is: get done or we’re done for.

We’re watching you, we’re waiting for you, but we’re running out of time.

We’re sinking; we’re drowning.

The message is: it’s now or never.

The message is not just political: SYRIZA or memoranda.

The message is: SYRIZA or humanitarian catastrophe.

Because those shameless appointees of the lenders, those executors of the memoranda implementation, they have no shame at all.

They have no respect or pity for anything or anybody.

Greece: Syriza congress unites its forces for a left government

Syriza congress delegates vote.

By Pedro Filipe Soares (Left Bloc, Portugal), translated by Dick Nichols

July 19, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Over the July 10-14 weekend, at the first congress of Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left), it was obvious that history was being written in indelible ink. This was a congress that changed the Greek left.

Faced with the challenge of rising growth opening the door to future government, the left coalition took the step of becoming a party. Hence this first congress, where everything was spelled out — from founding principles to political orientation and statutes. And, of course, where everything was discussed and different positions clarified, always with typical Greek passion.

Attendance: 3430 delegates. This statistic reveals the enormous commitment that the party invested into building this congress. Its deliberations lasted from July 10 to July 14, when 3412 delegates participated in the election of the president. It was an extraordinary sensation to enter that hall and feel the energy of the delegates, the intensity of the discussion and the attention given to all points of detail.

Europe's 'lefts' and the capitalist crisis

Front de Gauche (France) leader Jean-Luc Melenchon with SYRIZA (Greece) leader Alexis Tspiras.

For more on the developments on Europe's far left, click HERE (see also the pink tabs and the end of the article)

By Francois Sabado

May 20, 2013 -- International Viewpoint -- The situation of the "lefts" in Europe cannot be understood without starting from the crisis, its multiple dimensions and its effects on the social and political field. Hitting head-on all the organisations and parties linked to the history of the workers’ movement, precipitating ruptures, it obliges political forces to recompose around new axes.

Alexis Tsipras in London: Q & A on lessons from Hugo Chavez, a left government, the euro, stopping Golden Dawn ...

March 15, 2013 -- Irish Left Review -- The following questions [in bold] and answers took place after a talk SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras gave to SYRIZA’s London branch in Friend’s House in Euston on March 15. The speech itself can be found here. Some of the questions have been condensed to remove lengthy preambles and/or tangents but they remain an accurate reflection of the query posed by the audience member.

Could you give us a few reflections on what we can learn from the left in Latin America and particularly the legacy of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela?

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' London speech: 'Our pragmatism is subject to our vision for radical change'

[For more discussion of SYRIZA, click HERE.]

By  Alexis Tsipras

March 15, 2013 -- Left.gr -- Comrades and friends, Europe is on edge. Two worlds collide. On one side stand the productive forces of democracy, the people fighting to create a society of justice, equality and freedom. On the other side, a neoliberal biopolitical project unfolds. Its aim is to control bodies and minds through the politics of fear. To discipline human life in its entirety. To intensify the exploitation of labour and to increase the profits of capital. 

I am privileged to address you here in the heart of London today to declare that we are part of the experiment of democracy. 

We in SYRIZA believe that radical democratic changes are the only way out of the crisis for the people of Europe. 

This is not an optimistic illusion. 

It is the compelling conclusion of rational argument and detailed analysis. 

To the crucible: an Irish engagement with the Greek crisis and the Greek left

Syriza poster, Synaspismos office in Athens, Helena Sheehan on the streets with Syriza in Athens.

[For more discussion of SYRIZA, click HERE.]

By Helena Sheehan

January 21, 2013 -- Irish Left Review, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal at the author's suggestion and with her permission -- A monumental drama is playing out before our eyes. It is a true Greek tragedy. The plot: A society is being pushed to its limits. The denouement is not yet determined, but survival is at stake and prospects are precarious. Greece is at the sharp end of a radical and risky experiment in how far accumulation by dispossession can go, how much expropriation can be endured, how far the state can be subordinated to the market. It is a global narrative, but the story is a few episodes ahead here.

Greece: Stathis Kouvelakis on tasks facing SYRIZA following its electoral breakthrough

December 7, 2012 -- Socialist Resistance -- The London branch of SYRIZA hosted a public meeting, "Shock therapy and popular uprising: Greece at the Crossroads", on December 7, 2012. Videos of the four keynote speakers Costas Douzinas, Stathis Kouvelakis, Seumas Milne and Marina Prentoulis are available.

Above, Stathis Kouvelakis sets out the tasks facing SYRIZA following its electoral breakthrough.

Other speakers were (to view the videos click on the links below):

Seumas Milne argues that the neoliberal capitalist model is facing defeat due to the resistance it is creating and its failure to end austerity.

Marina Prentoulis explains the relationship between SYRIZA’s electoral advances and the movement on the streets.

SYRIZA activist Yiannis Bournous on historic responsibility of the left in Greece; Alexis Tsipras interview

For more discussion and analysis on the political crisis in Greece, click HERE.

December 14, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Sibylle Kaczorek and Jody Betzien, from the Australian Socialist Alliance, interviewed Yiannis Bournous in Athens. Yiannis is a leading activst in the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza), Greek's rapidly growing left party.

Syriza came close to winning elections in June 2012 on the basis of rejecting the brutal austerity being enforced on the people of Greece. Instead, a coalition of three parties (Greece's tradition conservative party New Democracy, its social-democratic rival PASOK and a right-wing split from Syriza, the Democratic Left) was formed, committed to greater austerity measures.

Yiannis is also a member of the central political committee of Synaspismos, one of Syriza's affiliate groups, and a member of the executive board of the European Left party. He spoke on the situation in Greece and Syriza's perspectives.

* * *

'The Greek people are at the epicentre of the capitalism crisis'

Speech given by Eric Toussaint at the SYRIZA youth festival in Athens on October 6, 2012 (transcript below). More than 3000 people were present to listen to four speakers: Marisa Matias, EU deputy, member of the Left Bloc (Portugal); Lisaro Fernandez, miners’ union leader (Asturias, Spain); Alexis Tsipras, president of SYRIZA (Greece); Eric Toussaint, president of Committee for the Abolition of the Third World Debt (CADTM, Belgium).

* * *

By Eric Toussaint, translated by “Snake” Arbusto and Judith Harris

October 6, 2012 -- We are now experiencing one of the worst crises of the worldwide capitalist system. But capitalism will not die a peaceful, natural death. Crises are part of the metabolism of capitalism. Only conscious action by the people can destroy and supersede capitalism in order to open the way to democratic socialism.

The Greek people are currently at the epicentre of the capitalism crisis. The way in which the Greek people mobilise to confront and respond to this capitalism crisis will be a crucial factor for finding a solution at the international level. You are at the epicenter of both the crisis and the solution to this crisis.

Greece in the eye of the storm (the Greek left, SYRIZA and the limits of the concept of ‘left reformism’)

SYRIZA rally. Photo by SYN Flickr.

By Paul Kellogg

November 18, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, originally published as six notes at PolEcon.net. Republished here with Paul Kellogg’s permission.-- An economic crisis of enormous proportions has erupted in a first world country in the global North. The scale of the economic crisis in Greece has few modern equivalents, and is at the root of a massive social and political upheaval. Navigating that crisis poses difficult challenges for the social movements in Greece, and has important lessons for activists around the world. The article that follows is an attempt to provide information that can assist those, unfamiliar with the situation in Greece, in navigating this situation.

Europe: Greece, Spain, Portugal – the arc of resistance to austerity hardens

 On September 25-26-27, 2012, up to 50,000 demonstrators tried to encircle the parliament, calling for the resignation of the government and declaring “democracy kidnapped”. There were violent clashes with police.

Read more by Murray Smith. Read more analysis of Greece, Spain, Portugal and France.

By Murray Smith

October 16, 2012 -- Frontline, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- It sometimes seems as if Europe’s sovereign debt crisis has been going on forever. But in fact it really only manifested itself in 2010, a result of the bailing out of private banks with public money and other public spending due to the crisis. And in May of that year Greece became the first country to ask for help and to receive so-called “aid” – really, it cannot be repeated too often, loans that must be paid back – from the now infamous "Troika", the IMF-ECB-European Commission.

Richard Seymour: A comment on Greece and Syriza

Photo from Kasama Project.

[For more discussion of SYRIZA, click HERE.]

By Richard Seymour

October 9, 2012 -- International Socialism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal in the interests of promoting left discussion -- The “strategic perplexity” of the left confronted with the gravest crisis of capitalism in generations has been hard to miss.1 Social democracy continues down the road of social liberalism. The far left has struggled to take advantage of ruling-class disarray. Radical left formations have tended to stagnate at best. Two exceptions to this pattern are the Front de Gauche in France and Syriza in Greece. While the Front de Gauche did not do as well as many hoped, it did channel a large vote for the radical left in the presidential elections won by Hollande. Meanwhile, Syriza is potentially a governing party in waiting.

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