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Syriza and the Peaceful Co-existence with Capitalism

I

Shortly after Syriza's victory, leftists in Canada, the US, and other imperialist states became obsessed with a particular article about Yanis Varoufakis, this party's finance minister, regarding his claim about being an "erratic marxist."  The message was clear: here was a party in power that was unashamed to speak of marxism and so, because of this lack of shame, it must be marxist.

For the mainstream left at the centres of imperialism Syriza represents a possibility, a way to make revolution through the ballot box, that confirms the revisionist thesis: communism is possible through reform, through the peaceful co-existence with capitalism, and a mass movement can be mobilized through free elections.  According to this argument only one factor is missing in these countries that are not Greece: an electoral party capable of representing the left––as Syriza supposedly does––and thus the solution is to build this party.

And yet the manic sharing of the Guardian's article about Varoufakis' erratic marxism obscures the fact that this finance minister is marxist in name rather than concept, and even his commitment to the former is conflicted.  This is the same Varoufakis who is now being celebrated by the Economist and the Wall Street Journal, those ideological organs devoted to imperialist capitalism, and who has argued for the maintenance of austerity: Greece's relationship with the European Union must be maintained, the Greek working class should learn to live "frugally", and a new agreement with the country's creditors (rather than an abolition) will be pursued.  On the one hand an endorsement of the importance of marxism; on the other hand a collaboration with capital.  And still this article about his "erratic marxism" is being shared by online leftists.


II

The Movement of the Squares was a popular and spontaneous rebellion, demonstrating the Greek masses' rejection of capitalism.  Mass rebellions, however, always produce a situation in which the most structured and unified organizations involved in these rebellions will possess the potential to sieze hold of the movement and direct its energy.  Syriza was the result of a coalition of the most organized groups involved in this rebellion and thus, unlike groups such as the KKE that avoided the Movement of Squares altogether, the organization that could provide the masses with a direction and meaning to their revolt.  Rebellions always seek a focus, direction, a meaning that consummates and justifies resistance.  

The people, in their creative and angry resistance to capitalism, demand an answer to the question: how do we get rid of that which has caused us to rebel?  Syriza provided an answer, and one that echoed precisely what citizens of so-called "democratic" societies have been taught to believe as correct from the moment they become cognitive: a new electoral party that would defeat austerity after being voted into power.  Moreover, since Syriza emerged from organizations involved in the rebellion this answer was treated with more seriousness than had it been given by a party without any grass roots links: if it had been disconnected from the rebellion and proposed the same answer it is extremely unlikely that the masses would have voted in such high numbers, providing Syriza with a landslide victory.  The question asked by resistance masses is always asked within the resistance itself; nobody cares for the answers provided by those who stand apart from the masses.

Hence, the theory of the mass-line explains Syriza's temporary popularity as well as why it will end up betraying the most revolutionary demands of the rebellion.  It emerged from the masses and brought an answer to the masses; its electoral victory was the result of mass work amongst those openly resisting the ravages of capitalism.  Rather than returning to the masses with a revolutionary solution, however, it simply transformed this mass support into an electoral drive.




III

Of course there was no possible way that Syriza could transform the mass support into anything other than becoming another party within the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.  The most organized elements of the rebellion possessed significant political differences, ranging from left liberals to marxists, and were therefore capable of only becoming a united front against austerity.  United fronts are important, indeed they are necessary, but it is a mistake to think a united front is an organization capable of leading the masses.  It is a bigger mistake to elect a united front in the hope that its base-line unity will hold within the halls of bourgeois political power.

We are already seeing the cracks in its unity as it fails to deliver the promise that made it a coalition in the first place: an end to austerity.  As large portions of this coalition recognize that they cannot end austerity simply by being elected to the political seat of a bourgeois dictatorship (because what power do they have without their own institutions, their own military power?) they will abandon this promise, settling for paltrier and paltrier reforms.  Other portions of the coalition are already disenchanted now that Syriza has been forced to accept that austerity is the norm.  Why Syriza's "communist tendency" ever thought that austerity measures could be rejected by a party elected into a bourgeois mode of production––how it could have the power to negotiate with finance ministers when it possesses no power beyond the constitutional framework of bourgeois legality––demonstrates a certain level of myopia.  At least, unlike those communist groups whose international allies still think it is possible to make demands of Syriza, as if it can possibly listen, some members of Syriza are openly admitting the error of seeing Syriza's election as a solution to austerity.

After all, Syriza is simply following the path charted by Pasok.  Pasok also emerged as a coalition of a very broad left, winning a landslide victory in 1981.  Pasok also attempted to withdraw from the larger capitalist community, campaigning to reject NATO and the European Economic Community, and failed for the same reasons that Syriza is failing now.  At one point Pasok had the same finance minister as Syriza.


IV

What is more interesting for me is the way in which Syriza's victory is popularizing a certain discourse amongst the mainstream left in my social context.  With the failure of the NDP to even express social democracy, there has been a desire to build a new electoral party, like the old NDP, as if this is the solution to working class misery.  Something like Qu├ębec Solidaire and now something like Syriza.

Rather than recognizing that Syriza's victory was due to its emergence from the Movement of the Squares, there is a tendency to build a party like Syriza without a mass movement.  Or worse, wait for mass movements to appear so as to propose a Canadian-style Syriza as the answer to the questions these movements raise.  Stymied by the ideology that capitalism can be voted out of power, or at the very least that a social democratic party will produce the space in which an insurrection can occur (like the Kerensky government, but again forgetting that the Bolsheviks had been building dual power from 1905 onwards), we desire solutions that are easier and less threatening than building a comprehensive fighting party.  We like to forget, as I have argued so many times before, that committed social democrats are already willing to do this work, because this is the limit of their politics, and we will only succeed in getting swallowed by a movement of friendlier capitalism when we should be spending our energy building something more radical.

It is considered bad taste to critique Syriza, just as it was considered bad taste to challenge the limits of the Occupy movement or the Arab Spring.  But the limits of the latter are demonstrated by the existence of the former: spontaneous rebellions are limited because, without an organized revolutionary movement, those groups that are the most organized and unified will determine the meaning of these limits––these will be the pseudo-vanguards, catapulted into power because of their mass work.  In the end they will expend the energy of the masses, betraying their hopes, and history has already proven that this is the case.

The desire to treat Syriza as a left-wing solution to austerity demonstrates a very important contradiction: the realization that movementism is incapable of challenging capitalism and that some unified organization is required; the refusal to break from the same petty-bourgeois ideology that made movementism possible in the first place––the hope that capitalism can be reformed out of existence through elections and peaceful protests.  While the electoral victory of Syriza proves that only a unified party can channel the will of the masses (as long as this party emerges from the masses in the first place), it also demonstrates that any unified party, no matter what its ideology, is capable of taking hold of the masses' energy and directing it towards a particular aim.  As communists we should demand the existence of a party of the advanced guard rather than just any party and be careful not to conflate the two concepts.


V

Here it is worth pausing to consider the KKE's involvement in this series of events, particularly the way in which the KKE is now casting itself as a proper communist critic of revisionism.  A strange binary is emerging, promoted mainly by marxists in the international community: Syriza versus the KKE––social democracy versus "sectarianism".

The irony, of course, is that the KKE has been a revisionist party for a long time that has also sought to win communism through the strategy of elections.  Like Syriza, it is also an electoral party.  Like every revisionist party everywhere it believes in the peaceful co-existence with capitalism––so much so that it refused to participate in the Movement of the Squares, dismissing the militancy of the masses because "in the real popular revolution, not even one glass would break."

One wonders why the KKE did not join Syriza considering that it also believes that revolution can be accomplished according to the strategy laid out by Bernstein: through electoral victory and political reforms.  The truth, of course, is that Syriza is on the one hand a watered down version of the KKE (since the KKE still sticks to the formality of communist proclamations), and on the other hand a more militant version of the KKE (since the KKE has stood outside of radical struggles for some time, particularly outside of the recent rebellions which it dismissed as a bourgeois plot), which is to say a competing electoral party.

Point being, if the KKE ever managed to win political power through an election it would be faced with the same problems as Syriza.  Maybe even worse problems since it would never succeed in implementing even the barest fraction of its communist demands.  So why people waste time calling it "sectarian" for refusing to cooperate with Syriza, or why other people are angered at the dismissals of the KKE's "sectarianism" is a false dilemma.

So forget this dilemma since the problematic in Greece should not be reduced to "Syriza versus the KKE" simply because the latter refused to join the former's coalition, or that that the former's activities are now being rightly critiqued by the former––whose own strategy would lead it into similar compromises.  Rather, we need to look at what is required of any communist when faced with a mass rebellion.  These are opportunities to make a revolutionary movement stronger and allow it to develop its own hegemony.  The KKE did not take advantage of the Movement of the Squares because it has not taken advantage of militant rebellions for a long time; it has isolated itself from those factions of the working-class who are willing to put their bodies on the line so as to resist capitalism, the factions required for any revolutionary movement to become a vanguard.  Syriza took advantage of this rebellion but not in a revolutionary manner: it was the result of participants who decided to embark on a path that could only lead to compromise.

Therefore, when critics of the KKE's "sectarianism" complain that the KKE has isolated themselves from the most radical elements of the working class movement they are correct; they are incorrect in assuming that the building of Syriza was necessary or could accomplish anything useful for a revolutionary movement.  Similarly, when KKE supporters complain that Syriza is going to betray this very same working class and create a disaffection for the left they are also correct; they are incorrect in assuming that the KKE presents a viable alternative since the KKE, having isolated itself from the most radical sectors of the Greek working class, has nothing to betray in its own revisionist practice.

Neither Syriza nor the KKE are useful models for anti-capitalist struggles elsewhere.  The communist movement that has developed through world historical revolutions rejected both reformism and revisionism long ago.  We would do well to learn from revolutionary history.


VI

A tangent: Sebastian Budgen's interview with Stathis Kouvelakis was revealing, particularly in that it set up the terms of the narrative that frames Syriza for the mainstream left.  First we have the binary between Syriza and the KKE, discussed above.  Budgen frames this binary in the following terms: the left should be understood as divided between reformists and revisionists––the former are proper leftists, the latter are "ultra-leftists".  But since when was it "ultra-left" to be a communist electoral party that believes in a peaceful transition to socialism?

Secondly, we have the Trotskyist dogma of the errors of "Stalinism" and "socialism in one country" which is meant to justify the victory of a reformist party as the only truly left solution to the misery of the Greek masses.  Why?  Because of course there cannot be a revolutionary break with the EU and imperialism since this would amount to creating "socialism in one country"!  The best Greece can do is embark on a reformist path, with its communist organizations holding revolution in permanence and hoping that similar small steps towards socialism will be taken across the world so that a global insurrection will happen in tandem.  Both Budgen and Kouvelakis believe the truism of the errors of "socialism in one country" apparently unaware of how it might be a problem.

Thirdly, the immediate reification of Syriza as a revolutionary party to the point that any resistance to Syriza's governance is conceived as agent provocateur behaviour.  Like those protestors already beaten and arrested in Greece––they must be agent provocateur's like those involved in Kronstadt, like those petty-bourgeois "revolutionaries" who attempted to assassinate Lenin and sabotage the Bolshevik government!  (To be fair, I am not arguing that Syriza approved of the beating and arrest of the aforementioned protestors.  The fact that they would have no say in this matter because the institution of the police is not a people's institution, however, demonstrates the strength of my main arguments.)  So when Syriza fails to combat austerity, and the masses are still in open rebellion, will their rebellion to the austerity now sanction by Syriza constitute counter-revolutionary activity?  This is complete nonsense, but telling nonetheless.

And fourthly, Kouvelakis is now expressing doubts about Syriza.  Does this mean he is an agent provocateur, as Budgen suggested?  Let's hope not…


VII

Let's pause for a moment to consider the importance of Syriza's victory at this historical conjuncture. For while it is correct to recognize that its victory should not be misunderstood as the ascendancy of a revolutionary party––let alone a victory that can accomplish the very things Syriza stood for––it can and should be recognized as significant rather than dismissed altogether.

A party that ran on the platform of being "the left" and promised an end to neo-liberalism, a rejection of the EU, and a promise to combat capitalism succeeded in mobilizing the masses.  Although this party mobilized the masses for the ballot box so as to push it into the government of a bourgeois dictatorship this is still significant because it demonstrates that, even at the centres of imperialism, anti-capitalist organizations are popular.  Despite all of the anti-communist jingoism, the claim that the word communism cannot even be used for fear of disaffecting the general population Syriza succeeded in achieving a majority government despite the fact that it possessed a significant communist core who refused to not call themselves communist.  The fact that even the rightist elements of Syriza talk about being "erratic marxists" without losing popularity is significant.

Although there is a worry that Syriza's failures might produce a disaffection for the left amongst the popular masses––perhaps even giving up ground to the right populism of the Golden Dawn's neo-nazism––this might be the equivalent of a slippery slope fallacy: unjustified because it requires a crystal ball, and these worse case scenarios do not necessarily follow.  Syriza's failure could also produce an understanding amongst those masses that voted it into power that elections do not work, that a significant revolutionary break is required.  After all, the current disaffection with Syriza is not concerned with its leftism but about its inability to accomplish its leftist claims within the framework of electoral power.  The hope is that the anti-capitalist sentiments that Syriza was able to mobilize will surpass Syriza, develop into a properly revolutionary movement, and eclipse this moment of electoral compromise.

But yes, it is significant that people were mobilized to vote into power a government that ran on anti-capitalist principles, regardless of the limitations of these principles.  In the end, however, we need more than principles, more than an electoral movement.


VIII

Decades ago, one of the Indian anti-revisionist parties that would become part of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) called Salvador Allende's government in Chile a Casablanca of Revisionism.  The criticism was simple, and not about Allende as a person or his victimization.  Here was a person who followed the revisionist thesis to the letter, ethically and without hypocrisy: the peaceful co-existence with capitalism through elections; a socialist movement of reform.  But what was the result?  Without smashing the institutions upon which the previous order was dependent the counter-revolution immediately manifested in these institutions––such as the military, where Pinochet was a general.  Without building a movement that developed a people's army the people really did have nothing: they were swept aside by the military institution that had existed prior to, and was allowed to exist during, Allende's political victory.

So what of Syriza?  It is worth noting that even the communists within this coalition, such as Stathis Kouvelakis, have compared Greece to Chile.  They even admit that Syriza is more right than Allende's elected party.  If they have made the comparison and noted the gap between Greece and Chile then they should have derived the only possible conclusion from these premises: that Syriza will not end austerity, let alone end capitalism.

Again, what of Syriza?  I do not doubt that Syriza was devoted to its anti-austerity program and willingness to reject both the EU and NATO; I think it borders on conspiracy theory to pretend that its ideologues were secretly committed to neo-liberalism and misled the masses.  There's no point in imagining secret collaborations or conspiratorial bourgeois plots––this is not materialism, it is a concern with psychological quirks rather than structural processes.  The KKE might crow about Syriza's failures, using this as justification for its assessment about Syriza's secret bourgeois program, but this is an idealist assessment of reality: after all the KKE, if elected, would also end up collaborating because it has simply come to power through the political channels established by capital.

The main problem with Syriza is not that it wasn't devoted to its politics but that its politics could not be accomplished within the framework of bourgeois dictatorship.  Its recent capitulation to the austerity measures it sought to reject is better explained by the fact that it came to power through an election rather than a revolution because it is clear that even its finance minister is disappointed by Greece's inability to force Germany and the rest of the EU into an historic compromise.  For when Syriza came to the bargaining table with its creditors what did it come with? The promise to liquidate Greek capital and create a socialist autarchy?  Of course not, because it did not possess the means to create such an autarchy.  The very fact that it was forced to go to this bargaining table in the first place is telling: it is simply in command of already existing bourgeois institutions that are disinterested in its politics, it has to cooperate with EU capitalism because Greece is still embedded in EU capitalism.  How would Syriza pull Greece out of this capitalism and defend its borders?  With its own army, its own police, its own economic institutions––none of these things exist.  How then can it even hope to bargain, why is it bargaining in the first place?  It lacks the economic leverage and, as marxists should know by now, in the last instance the economic base is determinant.

In the end, Syriza's failure should not be viewed as a disappointment because we should not be disappointed by what we should recognize as a failure in the first place.  You cannot reform capitalism from within; at the very least you can achieve some breathing room, and maybe Syriza can provide this (however limited, but still…), but this breathing room is not a space for struggle.  A month has passed and Syriza is already following the path charted by its historical predecessors without being, for all that, even another "casablanca of revisionism"… Beneath the political standard represented by Allende, it will fall for the same reasons but not from the same heights.

Comments

  1. I don't want to be picky, but this

    "the Bolsheviks had been building dual power from 1905 onwards"

    isn't quite right. The first Soviets that emerged during 1905 revolution were soon crushed by the government and the Bolshevik party had to abandon the idea of creating organs of people's power till 1917. During that time they even became a parliamentary party - there was a Bolshevik fraction in State Duma in 1912-1914.

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    1. That's one interpretation but there is also the line that the period from 1905 to 1917 where the Soviets were building counter power, because the guerrilla warfare that began in 1905 persisted. (The nPCI has a theory, for example, that this represents an untheorized PPW.) Yes there was a Bolshevik fraction in the Duma, but the underground activities and organizing were still ongoing.

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    2. You have got it all wrong, comrade. The guerrilla warfare that was waged during the first Russian revolution was defeated, not persisted, and it was exactly the reason why the Bolshevik party changed its tactics after 1905. Unlike Mensheviks in the subsequent years, Lenin and his party refused to capitulate before the Tsar and retained their underground structure, but they didn't wage any guerrilla warfare. Their activities were mostly non-violent and they didn't try to build their own armed force. It was impossible due to the state of the party (which was barely standing in those years) and the low activity of the masses. Only around 1912 the revival began, and before the war Bolsheviks gained strength very rapidly. Still, there was no armed struggle at that time.

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    3. Ok, well I'll admit that my area of expertise is not Russian history and that the 1905-1917 theory comes from an organization's position paper and defer to your intervention. Even still, what you've described still demonstrates that the Bolsheviks were active as a party with an underground structure when they entered the Duma, making them much different (for all we known) than the forces aligned around Syriza.

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    4. Well, guerrilla type actions *did* occur in Russia during and after 1905-06, but in so far as they were linked to Bolshevism, or to the RSDLP, is questionable at best. Czarist Russia was a huge place, so you could find examples of virtually anything if you cherry-pick the right events. The question even came up in 1910 in the RSDLP's control commission relating to various groups of guerrillas and their actions, because some folks in Russia had begun to mistake Communist guerrillas for ordinary bandits (because it was generally impossible to work out what exactly each band was doing exactly, in the eyes of your average Russian) because the Party had virtually no control over the actions of some groups. On occasion, when the groups claimed allegiance to the Party or were actively organized by the Party, and attempted to provide funds to the Party it sometimes even backfired - such as the case in 1908. when Litvinov, and later Olga Ravich were arrested for attempting to exchange 500 ruble notes (which the Party had obtained via the 1907 Tiblis/Tiflis bank raid) only to find that they couldn't be exchanged in Russia anywhere. The most humorous part of the story though, is that the main organizer of the raid Kamo, a Georgian associate of Stalin's, was arrested in Germany in connection to the robbery, and he successfully avoided prosecution by way of feigning insanity for 3 years! Only to escape the psychiatric ward lol.

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  2. Perhaps there are two factual issues that need to be addressed? First, as I understand it, the Greek parties that reject the EU are the KKE and Golden Dawn. SYRIZA and ANEL insist on accepting the EU, on staying in the Eurozone, on repayment. Their only difference with New Democracy or To Potami is that they reject the austerity. (It seems ANEL regards austerity as a German ploy in building the Fourth Reich.To Potami seems to think that improved taxation will pay the debt without national austerity.) In particular, SYRIZA and ANEL continue to regard alliance with imperialists as essential to their notion of Greek interests, particularly vis-a-vis Turkey. SYRIZA's election I think was nearly univerally regarded as signifying the Greek population's commitment in the vast majority to this, in direct contradiction to the two parties who (formally, at least) reject it. In this regard, SYRIZA must I think be construed as being not just deliberately anti-Communist, but centrally dedicated to fighting Communism. SYRIZA's coalition with ANEL and the nomination of a right-wing president are not inexplicable deviations. Alliance with the rightists who share the commitment to bourgeois democracy (aka imperialism) is perfectly sensible.

    Second, a related question is whether the popular movement in Syntagma square really was the action of the most radical working class people? SYRIZA is well known to be hospitable to ex-Communists, erratic Marxists (I agree with you that this is a case where "Marxism" is tacitly counterposed to that nasty Leninism/Stalinism/Communism) and a variety of Trotskyists, anarchists. and would-be social engineers. I think it is prudent to consider whether the common axis is repudiation of the KKE on the backward objection that the KKE is sectarian for its repudiation of imperialism. But not for failure to act on this formal program. I think you are very correct in assessing SYRIZA as PASOK revived. But is a desperate longing for the old PASOK really radical working class?

    Further, and in a way, even more important, working class action certainly isn't reducible to the union movement. But it is hard to conceive how trade union struggle can be separated from the mass struggle in an urbanized society. I don't think it's obvious that SYRIZA has any deep connection to the trade union movement. What has been claimed is strength in public service unions, which can overlap with aristocracy of labor, or possibly even be a non-proletarian stratum that directly services bourgeois needs but not exploited for surplus value.

    It might be more useful to view SYRIZA's emergence as a campaign for imperialism with a human face. Thus, even if it emerged from the squares, it's mass line was always dedicated to denouncing even formal repudiation of imperialism as "sectarianism," or more generally, as politics, which allegedly SYRIZA rose above. The difference I see with what you wrote, is that one task of the moment is to confront the attacks on KKE sectarianism. Should working class members of the KKE, especially those in the trade unions, really be convinced that the radical leaders of the working class have correctly diagnosed the KKE as sectarian because it advocates leaving the Eurozone?

    Steven Johnson

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    1. First of all, you're quite correct that Syriza is pro-EU but when it first formed one of the lines it expressed, and that was possibly dominant, was that anti-austerity could only be accomplished by leaving the EU. This was one of the things that led to its appropriation of the left factions. Here is also where a parallel to Pasok is interesting: it initially campaigned on leaving the precursor to the EU but dropped this as part of its party program very quickly. Syriza's drop was prior to its election but people were still surprised after it was elected when it showed an unwillingness to leave the EU… meaning, perhaps, that people just weren't paying attention.

      Secondly, I think it is correct to view the Movement of the Squares as a spontaneous proletarian movement. The interpretation that it is not is the position that was being pushed by the KKE in order to justify its inaction, an inaction it has demonstrated in every radical struggle in Greece for a long time now. Of course it is correct that these rebellions need to broaden their hegemony in order to be successful, and thus pull in the broader working class, and this is clearly something Syriza cannot do (my position is in complete agreement with you here) because of what it is. It might have emerged from the mass movement but its leadership is primarily the petty-b elements of that movement––even its ideologues admit this (as Kouvelakis did in the Budgen interview)––so it is no surprise it began with a petty-bourgeois character that has now morphed into a liberal bourgeois character.

      Why do I not care about confronting the attacks on the KKE as being sectarian? Because I think the KKE is a revisionist party of the Bernstein kind that, like the CPC in my social context, should be seen as useless when it comes to making a revolution. And it was diagnosed as sectarian because it refused to involve itself in any coalition, even before the emergence of Syriza, related to the Movement of the Squares which it shat on from day one. However, I think it is important to confront how all critiques of Syriza are depicted, by proponents of Syriza, as being pro-KKE sectarianism, which is a bunch of nonsense.

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  3. > should be misunderstood

    You probably meant "should not be misunderstood."

    Feel free to delete this comment after making this correction (if indeed this should be corrected).

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    1. Just saw this now: it was in the spam folder for some reason. Yep, "not" was missing. As was "is" in the same sentence. There are probably also a host of other typos, as is usually the case…

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  4. Hello,

    i am not a leftist,but i would have voted for ANEL if I was in Greece, and I am disillusioned about their strategy because they cannot take Greece out of the EU. I never thought these Syriza marxists were seriously going to take Greece out of the EU, because fundamentally, the EU was promoted by the Euro communists with their globalist ideas of one market, allowing immigration into Greece from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and many African countries, and attacking and undermining the Orthodox Church, and promoting things such as gay rights, feminism, abortion, etc. Syriza has pretty much the same anti Greek view, so it is not surprising they will stay in the EU.

    Since Greece has joined the EU, they first got corrupted by the EU, and slowly Greek culture has decayed and changed from an organic culture to a copy of the other EU countries, the same liberal bland culture of 'diversity' which is always the same from Paris to Athens. England and France had huge empires, let them have the immigrants from their former empire, i dont want to see mass migration to Greece, and i believe those who have got citizenship of Greece improperly should have it revoked.

    the only serious force that can take Greece out of the EU, stop all immigration from Pakistan,Bangladesh etc, and put Greece back on its feet, promote a healthy national culture upholding the Orthodox Christian faith is the Golden Dawn. i am aware of their fascist nature, and i am a conservative, not a fascist. but these things, leaving the EU, ending immigration and repatriating or moving on the existing immigrants, and preserving national culture and the Orthodox church are of importance.

    perhaps an ANEL/Golden Dawn alliance in some future election might be better, and take Greece out of the EU.

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    1. Fascists aren't welcome on this website. You might call yourself just a conservative but fascism is conservative capitalism and you are precisely the person who is drawn to the ranks of every fascist movement, particularly with your fear of immigrants and oppressed people's, and your assumption that this is the cause of Greece's problems. This is not the cause of your country's problems, just as the Jews were not the cause of Germany's problems pre-WW2, but a scapegoat that fascist movements use to mobilize people like you to think there is an easy solution to austerity.

      Austerity measures are part and parcel of capitalism and its mechanisms, and you are completely wrong to think that "Euro-communism" is communism in any way shape or form: this akin to right wing hacks calling Obama a socialist when he is about as left as JS Mill, and not even that: he is a classical liberal capitalist, and what is called "Eurocommunism" is also classic capitalist ideology. Point being, if you think the Golden Dawn will solve your problems when they don't realize that the problems with Greece (as with every place affected by capitalism) is not immigrants but class disparity, particularly the ruling class that in order to keep up a certain level of exploitation forces the poor to experience the crisis and guts social programs.

      Finally, if you think that "national culture and the Orthodox Church" possess some high importance because of some unchanging Greek essence then, yet again, you are fascist. Essential notions of culture, and the idea that culture is being "polluted" by outsiders, is a fascist trope and is just magical thinking that denies history. Culture has changed historically, what we call "Greece" existed prior to the Orthodox Church––if you really want to preserve some essential culture why don't you cling to polytheism, or maybe even learn from Plato and Aristotle who have more to teach us about reality than the Golden Dawn and the ideologues of the Orthodox Church.

      I am only allowing your comment, since fascists aren't welcome here, for the moment as a teaching aid. If you reply with the same kind of asinine ignorance, with all of your backwards and unscientific beliefs that betray a choice to endorse chauvinism rather than to figure out why Greece is really suffering, then your comment will be deleted as it is in violation of the comment policy.

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  5. Great article. Thanks for help me to clarify my doubts in the Greek case.

    But, in the case of the Venezuela, how the socialist Party in that country has been able to achieve advancements despite having come to power through bourgeois institutions-elections?

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    1. I think I probably needed to clarify what I meant by the electoral arena, being an electoral party, etc. Chavez's ability to hold power had more to do with the fact that he was connected to the institution of the military, and thus had that institution already loyal to him, as well as mass support then just the fact that he won at the ballot box. At the same time, it is not as if Chavez was pushing for communism, regardless of the rhetoric, but I won't get into that here since it might come off as some pithy dismissal of Chavismo, which is not my intent. We can add to this the tactic of the CPN(Maoist), which commanded a massive People's Army, using elections to demonstrate that it did have mass support… Of course, if the CPN(Maoist) had not ended up going down the revisionist path and just becoming an electoral party things would have been different, as they were at the beginning, and here it is not really the fault of the tactic of elections but more that the line in command really did see elections in the way that Syriza sees them: bourgeois respectability.

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  6. Could you explain this: "United fronts are important, indeed they are necessary, but it is a mistake to think a united front is an organization capable of leading the masses"?

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    1. Totally missing a qualifier since, as should be obvious, the claim by itself contradicts other claims in the same piece. Should probably read "an organization capable of leading the masses to socialism" or maybe something else. My posts are usually written quickly, but this one was messier than most for reasons I won't get into here.

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  7. This may seem off topic, but curious about your thoughts.
    what is the MLM position vis a vis LGBT rights and gay marriages? Trotskyists tell me that Stalin and Mao were homophobic, and there was an article on homophobia from the Nepali Maoists by Gary Leupp a while ago. The RCP USA changed their position about homosexuality and are still hounded for their past homophobia. it has been alleged that either the Sendero Luminoso or Tupac Amaru or both used to murder queers.

    Do you think that Maoism is compatible with Queer theory? is there are struggle against hetero-normativity in the Maoist movements and parties?

    while undoubtedly the communist movements were progressive for feminism, but i'm not sure about LGBT issues. but what has happened in the past does not mean of course that it needs to happen in the future, nor that contemporary Maoists in the west are homophobic.

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    1. First of all, Gary Leupp's article was not very well researched. While there was homophobia in Nepal, it was not condoned by the party––indeed the party, at the time, took a strong stance against it (the party also didn't condone patriarchy and yet, as we know, the patriarchal aspects of semi-feudalism created line struggle within the party). Evidence of how it was advanced can be seen by the fact that it, under the Maoists (when they were still on the revolutionary road), Nepal became the first nation to recognize trans as a legal category.

      Yes, Stalin and Mao were homophobic. So was Trotsky, for that matter, so it's a bit hypocritical for Trotskyists to use the chauvinist problems of past communists as evidence that a tendency itself is homophobic. Trotskyists, Leninists, Maoists, and Marxists of all types have been homophobic because homophobia was, for a very long time, a normative, common sense belief about the world. Anarchists in this period were also homophobic; heteronormativity was, well, the norm.

      Moreover, since Maoist movements tend to emerge in semi-feudal contexts they do have to contend with a lot of backwards ideologies… while still, at the same time, still being far more advanced than what people claim. The Communist Party of the Philippines was the first communist party *anywhere* to take a hard stance against homophobia and allow queer marriage within its ranks. The Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan is opposed to homophobia as well (while recognizing that imposing measures against homophobia will be difficult in a semi-feudal country).

      And while the RCP-USA had a backwards position on homosexuality, the only groups that challenged it at the time in a manner that was not silly (i.e. the Sparts like to claim that they have this long history of being pro-queer but they equate homosexuality to pedophilia, which is a pretty fucked position) were other elements of the maoism anti-revisionist movement. Indeed, the best stuff written about communism and queerness was put out by groups in the 1970s that came from a Maoist-influenced, ML anti-revisionist position.

      In any case, the problematic should not be that MLM or MLMZT, or even communism in general, are either compatible/incompatible with LGBT issues, but that LGBT issues, like all issues of oppression, are such that the dominant discourse affects *every* progressive tendency (not just maoism, not just communism in general, but every shade of red and black) due to the power of ruling class ideology. Clearly it our job to struggle against this chauvinism, and I think the Maoist movement has actually been better at this than other tendencies (despite what Trotskyists want to think, I mean go back to the 1950s and every Trot group was seriously anti-gay), but it has also made mistakes and we shouldn't hold up past revolutionary leaders as symbols of moral perfection.

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