An opportunity for the radical left

The electoral victory of Alexis Tsipras and his leftist coalition Syriza was effective and decisive, despite a continual rain of threats and warnings that fell on the Greek population throughout the campaign. Official Europe and the majority of member states have done everything possible to influence Greek public opinion and to forestall the possibility of a new political experience, inspired by different parameters than those imposed by the troika. But Greece now has a new government, even though their campaign promises to the people will not be easily fulfilled. The European attitude towards the new Greek situation will be fundamental in bringing about Tsipras’ action plan. It will take a lot of audacity, but that will not be enough by itself, as it will also require more financing, and without delay.

We will know the European position in just a few days. We will soon find out whether it recognizes the new reality, provides funds for emergency measures and agrees to a renegotiation of the debt, or it stands fast, inflexible in its demands, willing to sacrifice the Greek link to the euro and the European Union. We will know if there is a willingness to negotiate and provide assistance, respecting the unique Greek path but without renouncing its own interests. Or whether it opts for intransigence, for blocking the new Greek government and silencing its project. If the Greek experience starts to bear fruit, to show signs of viability and earning credit, it will encourage similar proposals that are appearing in other countries. This is clear. But to lose Greece and prestige in the south, amid growing euroscepticism in the north, does not seem at all better for the troika and Germany than the copies of Syriza and its policies in other places.

The interpretations of the results in Greece have attributed the shift in the electoral balance to the mood of a population that has been highly punished and disappointed by the consequences of the application of the austerity prescription. The unrest, indignation and annoyance could explain, without doubt, a part of the electoral shift. But in their attempt to escape from a neo-liberal orthodoxy with perverse effects, one cannot underestimate the importance of the growing conviction that it is possible to do things in another way. Even if the procedures are not always clear. Venturing decisively into the unknown can be inspiring when the only other option is the perpetuation of sheer poverty. It is better to have a good map and a well-defined program, clearly. But the uncertainty of taking a new road is preferable to the resignation, renunciation, and subordination to someone’s diktat.

Beyond the current efforts to see who Syriza’s closest friend is, its immediate influence in Spain and in Catalonia is and will be very important in the electoral cycle beginning in May. The local leftist parties with the more radical discourse, including those most prone to accusation and those with the most limited path to transformative intervention, could find in Syriza a close and successful reference. The Greek example will end up facilitating coalitions --there is already a very significant one in place-- and the convergence of those leftists who see themselves as, and want to be, radical. And this, in turn, could facilitate a more fluid relationship among the collection of leftist groups regarding the most radical policies possible in the context of a limited democracy such as ours: to achieve a majority of public support to make possible concrete transformations that could be more decisive and more widely shared.

Radical politics is always a possible policy, even though it obliges one to continuously explore the limits between the possible and the impossible. Radical politics will always be possible for the effective results that it might obtain and for the changes in collective consciousness and attitudes that could bring about. In Catalonia we are, right now, at the gates of a cycle that demands a radical approach: national sovereignty, democratic regeneration, new economic and social models. In any order: inseparable. But the democratic mandate for independence and the construction of a new state will be the main gauge of a radical approach. What could be more decisive for a cleansing and evaluation of democratic politics and for building a more just social and economic order than to place an embryonic state, brand new and under construction, in the hands of the people? What radical left could oppose this or doubt about participating actively in the deployment of a new state, in a foundational process launched with the fundamental objective of guaranteeing social justice and a clean democracy? Only a left that was not radical enough would hesitate.

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