It was a little disappointing to read Dave Osler’s piece about Greece. The present situation is not just a judgment call for the Greek Left but for the Left in Britain and the rest of Europe. I have also been in Greece recently and although my time was spent in Crete rather than the hell of Athens, it was very clear to me that there is an overwhelming mood of exasperation and determination to achieve fundamental change. Debates about whether this constitutes a “pre-revolutionary situation” are a bit of a luxury when you consider the reality that socialists are trying to come to terms with.
It should be pretty clear by now that there is a simple choice for Greek voters: a Syriza Government or the pro-memorandum coalition of New Democracy and the failed, corrupt and fading PASOK — still the Labour Party’s sister-party?! There is a serious possibility that Syriza will win and may even be able to form a government without the support of other parties. They are not one of a range of small, left parties. They have become the clear dominant organisation of the Left and are in fact, themselves, a very interesting coalition as opposed to a single party. They have ‘squeezed’ what was left of the KKE and the reason why, as Dave Osler points out, the old Trotskyists groups have hardly 1% of the vote between them, is because most Trotskyists who have transferred their brains into the 21st century are supporting Syriza themselves.
Talking to Syriza’s local leadership as well as one of two of their MPs and candidates, it seemed to me very clear that they understand the enormous challenge that faces them and the different ways in which the crisis may develop when they are elected, but above all I was struck by their genuine internationalism, their understanding that they are in the very eye of the storm, and that how they play their cards after the election may well be the defining issue for the whole of Europe for a long time to come.
We should all be giving them every support that we can. They are the greatest hope that the Left has had for years. They want and need to work with socialists throughout the rest of Europe. The highest priority for socialists in Britain at the moment should be the practical steps that we can take to support the comrades in every way from escalating the anti-austerity campaign in our own countries to providing practical aid to the people of Greece if they are punished for having the temerity to choose, democratically, to try to build an alternative system to the nightmare that capitalism has become for them.
That nightmare will engulf us all if we don’t seize this once in a lifetime opportunity and follow the lead that this small and courageous people are poised to create.