Via Critical Legal Thinking, excerpts from a translated interview with Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Syriza (the Coalition of the Radical Left), Greece’s new second largest political party:
I believe the European model has to be rebuilt from below. We can’t be satisfied with what today is called Europe. The current crisis is not a European crisis but a global one. Europe today does not have the mechanisms to confront it or control the worldwide financial attack against its peoples. Hence why Europe became a continent where the attack of the global financial system was ferocious.
The [euro currency] has become a prison for the peoples of Europe, especially the weakest economies on the periphery going through the crisis. The contradiction is in the base on which the euro was built. The euro is a powder keg that is going to explode if we continue in this direction.
Greece became an ultraliberal experiment, a guinea pig. Here the politics of shock were tried out in order to spread them to the rest of Europe. But society reacts. People no longer have the everyday life they had before and it is those same people who reacted so that things change. Through its mobilisation society threatened the elites in our country.
But we have to bear in mind that on the other side the adversaries were not only the political forces, but also a very powerful global and European financial system that fought us ferociously with all their weapons. But if we won the elections Greece might have become the weak link capable of breaking the chain that binds Europe. Perhaps in this way Greece might move from being a guinea pig to being the future baby, the embryo of hope. We have not yet lost that historic opportunity. The peoples have not spoken their final word.
New democratic institutions are also necessary. We cannot change clothes and put on the suit worn by the previous powers. That suit does not fit us well. Therefore we have to create new social and political institutions to raise the forces of the people, which at the moment are marginalized within the system and have neither participation nor power.
The Argentinian experience is very important for drawing political conclusions. I would say that the most important conclusion is rooted in the fact that the politics of neoliberalism is cynical and inhumane. It is a dead end. But, on the other hand, Argentina showed us the way in which a people can put a stop to this system and rebuild its bases in order to live better, to reorganise the State and society.
In Europe and in the world social democracy has undergone an incredible mutation in recent years. Social democracy operates as a kind of plastic surgery with which they want to change something that does not get changed. This casino financial capitalism cannot change its image however much surgery it gets. Social democracy is incapable of providing solutions to the real social problems that peoples confront. In Greece, the party that represented social democracy, PASOK, was no different from the right wing.
My generation entered politics as a very small force in the universities and colleges when there was a near complete hegemony of neoliberalism, when there were economic growth rates that were huge but at the same time abstract and when the examples of the good life were those of super-consumerism. Now we are in a different reality. Today, in Greece, half of young people between 24 and 35 have no job. They are condemning that generation to live a lot worse than their parents, they are condemning them to live without dreams. What we can give and say to this generation is that in its consciousness it has to recover hope within struggle.