Giorgos Charalambous https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/20169/all cached version 08/02/2019 16:09:41 en Left radicalism fifty years after 1968: the capitalist state and political science https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/giorgos-charalambous/left-radicalism-fifty-years-after-1968-capitalist-state-and-political-science <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We must grasp relations between politics, society and the economy more precisely, by appropriating the information and conceptual wealth in the entire spectrum of investigation into the institutionalized public realm. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Poulantzas.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Poulantzas.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="614" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nicos Poulantzas (1936 – 1979) was a Greek-French Marxist political sociologist. Wikicommons. Some rights reseved.</span></span></span>Fifty years after the ‘1968 moment’ or more broadly the 1960s and 1970s ‘new left’, what orientations lie within today’s radical spaces concerning the capitalist state? And how do they compare to fifty years before? </p> <p>Several imaginaries, arguments and perspectives exist concerning a socialist state or prefigurative practices beyond the state. Contestation also exists over the tools, potentials and processes of changing or transforming state structures. Most notably there continue disagreements concerning the arenas for mobilization; not so much the question of whether state institutions should be engaged with at all – the most recent representative example of this being Podemos’ ‘movement party’ with government aspirations – but rather how the functioning of left-wing activism and partisanship can be balanced between state and non-state arenas in order to maximize the result.</p> <h2><strong>The radical left and the capitalist state</strong></h2> <p>Without a doubt both institutional and extra-institutional sites of struggle are seen as legitimate by today’s radical left. As regards the search for citizenship defined beyond constitutionalism, a large proportion of the published material – written, verbal as well as graphical – is pre-occupied with resistance and extra-statal forms of self-, grassroots and community organization. Together they vividly suggest the rise of a bottom-up politics, protest, disruption and generalized dissent, feeding off a wider scepticism towards representative democracy in its capitalist liberal variety. Social movements have turned to citizenship as both a collective identity and a central demand, which <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14742837.2016.1194749">organises various claims</a> for civil, political and material rights that have been lost or damaged in the process of neoliberalization and its associated austerity programmes.</p> <p>A critical characteristic of the post-2008 radical left in Europe is dispossession, and this has <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322034955_Political_economy_and_social_movement_studies_The_class_basis_of_anti-austerity_protests">shaped the repertoires</a> of social movement politics. Difficulties in managing with the basic means of subsistence became key factors in mobilizing political grievances since the onset of the financial crisis. Solidarity initiatives and networks, as well as social mini-economies or self-organised healthcare as alternative platforms for ‘re-instituting socio-economic relations’ have acted as survival tactics by vulnerable groups, at the same time <a href="http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/106590/1/Arampatzi%20CEP.pdf">generating spaces</a> for propaganda against capitalism and neoliberalism. In parallel, an <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14742837.2016.1252669?src=recsys&amp;journalCode=csms20">upsurge of experiments</a> with economic practices in the form of cooperatives and associations focusing on the production or distribution of goods and services, as well as an increasing number of alternative finance systems have given rise to an <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14742837.2016.1252669?journalCode=csms20">‘alternative moral economy’</a>. In spite of the internet’s relevance to social movement politics, mobilization and resistance in the 2010s have been far from restricted to the virtual sphere; real, practical, extra-institutional forms of sociability are aplenty today as in the 1960s and 1970s.</p> <p>At one and the same time as non-institutional forms of mobilization and resistance are unfolding in the context of aggressive and ‘authoritarian neoliberalism’, whereby the state is being reconfigured into <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08935696.2013.843250">a less democratic entity</a>, insulated from social and political conflict, there is a growing consensus on a statist approach to social progress among some of the most successful electoral spearheads of today’s radical left – Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece, the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, the Left-Green Movement in Iceland, the ‘three-lefts’ government in Portugal since 2016, Jean Luc Melenchon’s unsuccessful but popular and vigorous campaign to win the French Presidency. These are parties that seek to take office in order to manage the state in a direction that is progressive in a redistributive, ecological, democratic and humanitarian way. </p><p>As the Greek left’s painstaking and controversial ongoing incumbency illustrates, radical left parties aspire to do so by stopping European austerity and reversing the multiple crises of neoliberal practice while remaining in the eurozone and the EU. To those dedicated to this electoral path, the attacks of an emerging ‘neo-anarchism’ on state power have <a href="http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/32233/1/Choat-S-3223-AAM.pdf">limited efficacy</a>, 'at a time when government actors themselves are explicitly endorsing the retreat of the state.' From this angle, perhaps today is a time when the capitalist state must first be selectively defended by radicals and then transformed? Should the fight against corporate asset-stripping of public goods previously protected by the capitalist state be a priority for the radical left? The response of socialist and socialist-inspired party leaders to both questions is affirmative. <span class="mag-quote-center">The attacks of an emerging ‘neo-anarchism’ on state power have limited efficacy, at a time when government actors themselves are explicitly endorsing the retreat of the state.</span></p> <p>In any case, today’s forces pointedly resemble Eurocommunism in the 1970s. The Eurocommunists were equally oriented towards entering government or some sort of participation in state structures that would tie them more closely to public political decision-making and implementation. As exemplified most by the office-seeking adventure of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) in the 1970s leading towards the <em>compromeso storico</em>, Eurocommunism was open to pluralist perspectives on alliances and representation that acknowledged the significance of (re-) approaching the middle classes and accommodating for the conventionalism and conservatism of &nbsp;the ‘petit bourgeois’. State theory enjoyed a fair amount of attention in the 1970s not only from Marxist theorists but also from more mainstream social science. New theories of the state, unsurprisingly but not inevitably, gave rise to a series of political positions: that imminent social transformation was not on the agenda for the advanced capitalist states and consequently that the latter’s structures should be approached with a mood of more constructive engagement than that entailed by the dismissive views couched in the orthodox interpretation of Leninism or in anarchism. (See for example, C.W. Barrow on ‘<em><a href="https://www.academia.edu/555442/Paradigm_Lost_State_Theory_Reconsidered">The Miliband–Poulantzas debate:An intellectual history</a>’</em> and Leo Panitch, <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08854309908428242">‘<em>The Impoverishment of State Theory’</em></a>.)</p> <p>As much as there is a tendency on the contemporary radical left to envision ‘state capture’, or at least to spend political time and resources on institutional battles, there is still much theoretical work to be done for this political family before legitimating a socialist strategy towards the state across a common set of indicators in the current phase of retrenchment. Ideological fragmentation on the radical left, in the 1960s as in today, means that there is nothing close to a ‘universal’ answer to a number of key questions about the neoliberal state: if it can be transformed from within or must be uprooted and dissolved through mass, revolutionary action so as to dismantle its apparatuses and replace them with non-state forms of human association? What would a transformation of the capitalist state rooted in class actually entail? How is state transformation best conceptualized in sequential terms and in context-specific ways? What are the micro level factors – from elite psychology to the psychology of voting – and macro level currents – from linked financial institutions to the inter-dependencies of neo-imperialism – that lock the system inside itself and gradualise radical change? Why has the left, as Ralph Miliband’s theory of a ‘state system’ pointed out five decades ago, acceded to governmental power at various points in the twentieth century but not been able to conquer state power in its diverse forms and places?<a href="#_edn1">[i]</a> Is this conquest less or more plausible today during the era of neoliberal crisis, a different epoch from the 1960s and 1970s crisis of profitability and welfare state erosion. <span class="mag-quote-center">Why has the left, as Ralph Miliband’s theory of a ‘state system’ pointed out five decades ago, acceded to governmental power at various points in the twentieth century but not been able to conquer state power in its diverse forms and places?</span></p> <h2><strong>Moving</strong><strong> forward</strong></h2> <p>As social movements from below claimed new ways of doing politics outside of the liberal format in the past two decades and simultaneously state policy became subsumed into the managerial and technocratic or expert policy prescriptions of several regional and international organizations linked to private capital, state theory became increasingly marginal to the shifting political environment and its corresponding academic fashion<a href="#_edn2">[ii]</a>. </p> <p>In a way the radical left’s political efficacy regarding the capitalist state has gradually diminished; and the onset of the crisis has not reversed the trend. Several signs of theoretico-ideological weakness and division on these matters may partly be the result of non-radical scholars dominating most of the work on how parties link citizens to the state, clientelistic and patronage practices, elections and electoral behavior, public administration and the formal and socio-legal aspects of the policy process. Marxist or class-analytic approaches anchor the analysis of the state in terms of its structural relationship to the capitalist system of class relations, but they often stop short of envisioning how the oppressive features of capitalism can be neutralized within the context of a socialist state and more generally in what ways liberal constitutionalism offers both things to avoid in constructing socialism, and procedures or rules to mimic and build upon. </p> <p>The argument and plea here draws from Antonio Gramsci’s observation that ‘If political science means science of the State, and the State is the entire complex of practical activities with which the ruling class not only justifies and maintains its dominance, but manages to win the active consent of those over whom it rules, then it is obvious that all the essential questions of sociology are nothing other than the questions of political science’. Taking Gramsci’s point a step further socialist strategy as a question of sociology has a lot to gain from the empirical as well as theoretical questions being dealt with by today’s (non-Marxist) political scientists. Not to repeat past mistakes of ‘dogmatic’ social science, one must acknowledge that the liberal tradition has generated research with a firm grasp on how the state, its institutions and its public arenas function. But this is often not appropriately discussed, critiqued and utilized by radical scholars and collective actors seeking state transformation, on account of its liberal, pro-capitalist intellectual origins. <span class="mag-quote-center">One must acknowledge that the liberal tradition has generated research with a firm grasp on how the state, its institutions and its public arenas function.</span></p> <p>If the left is to manage the state or contribute to policy-making favouring ‘revolutionary reforms’ that transcend Keynesianism as the most suitable formula for running state affairs, then it is key to consider the long-term experience of radical left actors (communist, social-democratic or other) in relation to office across time and space, and capture the alternating sequences of de- and then re-‘ideologizing’ toward which the liberal tradition is pointing. </p> <p>A politics of the state would illuminate the latter’s mechanisms and structures that are conducive to retreat, de-mobilization or compromise by radical left forces. Even if the objective is to wholly substitute the capitalist state it would be useful to draw insights from the formal nuances of the political process in order to be able to modify, envision or deconstruct them in socialist terms. As the radical left is pushing away from a neoliberal or capitalist model of production, re-moulding existing public structures and managing the commons that are being privatized can draw on organizational theory cutting across all types of collective action, in order to refine strategy and crystallize vision.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Portrait-Claus-Offe_Hertie-School_300.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Portrait-Claus-Offe_Hertie-School_300.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Claus Offe, Non-Resident Permanent Fellow at the IWM since 2015 and a member of the Institute’s Academic Advisory Board, teaches Political Sociology at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>If the purpose is to counter cooptation by the norms of capitalist democracy then a step forward in socialist strategy can arise out of the study of certain types of political actors at large – parties, party leaders, politicians, interest groups, parliamentary groups – which follow general patterns that do not leave the radical left and more broadly the question of socialism unaffected. If one agrees that the combination of state and non-state radical activity needs to be constantly and self-reflexively fine-tuned by those aspiring for a better future, then one must keep alert to the nuances of bureaucracies, both state and non-state, and the efforts to reform them in defense of liberal ideas and capitalist interests. Finally, if the objective, following Bob Jessop’s writings, is not to seek a determinate theory of the capitalist state but rather to embrace <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-349-27456-7_8">the search for institutional, historical and strategic specificity</a>, then comparative politics underpins every attempt at such a search. </p><p>In so far as political parties and parliamentary entities have been encapsulated by the state and turned into <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/249731361_Political_Parties_as_Public_Utilities">‘public utilities’</a>, moving away from society, especially the strain of research on party organizational and programmatic adaptation, including a number of now available data sources on the internet, can inform the linkage function of the state and address the widely observed tendencies of cartel-like party systems, professionalized governance and personalized politics. These phenomena and their spatiotemporal distribution intermediate the relationship of the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary radical left with the state in capitalism and neoliberalism, and thus reflect the opportunities and constraints of the political conjuncture radical actors confront. </p> <p>Likewise, the study of public opinion, scrutinizing how citizens view and the mass media construct the capitalist state, and by extension the public perceptions of the state’s strengths and weaknesses as situated in the ‘superstructure’, needs to be systematized so as to suggest pathways of propaganda and unravel the dialectics of ‘false consciousness’ among the oppressed.</p> <h2><strong>Conclusion</strong></h2> <p>Fifty years after 1968, when Marxist state theory thrived and attracted attention within centre-stage academia in Europe as well as across the Atlantic, socialist theory is once against devoid of a politological appetite keen to connect regimes of accumulation and consumption to the micro-level, intersecting political developments within and around the capitalist state. In the midst of political fluidity and the recent global wave for democracy, it is now more pertinent than ever before to integrate the political science mainstream into the Marxist treatments of the state, equalizing the core of political sociology towards the political dimension, while at the same time not forfeiting class analysis. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/DS9_ueDUQAA7FEf.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/DS9_ueDUQAA7FEf.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="442" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ralph Miliband (1924 - 1994) was a British Sociologist and a Marxist author on Parliamentary Socialism (1961), The State in Capitalist Society (1969) and Marxism and Politics (1977). All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The spirit of Nicos Poulantzas’s (1968) and Claus Offe’s (e.g. 1975) contributions to a Marxist theory of politics, or of Miliband’s (1969) quest for understanding the interpersonal connections between the state and corporate institutions constitutes a resource of the past which can be emulated in the present in order to reframe the state debate in terms intellectually analogous to those of the Marxist revival of 1968, more effectively connecting public policies to private behaviors. We need to grasp more precisely the relations between politics, society and the economy, by appropriating the empirical information and conceptual wealth found in the entire spectrum of investigation into the institutionalized public realm. </p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>References</strong></p> <p>Aronowitz, S. and Bratsis, P. (2002) ‘State power, global power’, in S. Aronowitz and P. Bratsis (eds.), <em>State theory Reconsidered: Paradigm Lost</em>. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, xi-xxvii.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Arampatzi, A (2016). ‘Constructing&nbsp;solidarity&nbsp;as resistive and creative agency in austerity Greece’, <em>Comparative European Politics</em>, 16 (1): 50-66.</p> <p>Barrow, C. W. (2002). ‘The Miliband–Poulantzas debate: An intellectual history’, in S. Aaronowitz and P. Bratsis (eds.), <em>State theory Reconsidered: Paradigm Lost</em>. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 13-52.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Bruff, I. (2014). ‘The Rise of authoritarian neoliberalism’, <em>Rethinking Marxism</em>, 26 (1): 113-129.</p> <p>Choat, S. (2016). ‘Marxism and anarchism in an age of neoliberal crisis’, <em>Capital &amp; Class</em>, 40 (1): 95-109.</p> <p>Della Porta, D. (2017). ‘Political economy and social movement studies: The class basis of anti-austerity protests’, <em>Anthropological Theory</em>, 17 (4): 453-473. </p> <p>Gerbaudo, P. (2016). ‘The indignant citizen: Anti-austerity movements in southern europe and the anti-oligarchic reclaiming of citizenship’, <em>Social Movement Studies</em>, 16 (1): 36-50.</p> <p>Hay, C. (1999) ‘Marxism and the state’, in A. Gamble, M. Marsh and T. Tant (eds.), <em>Marxism and Social Science</em>. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, pp. 152-174.</p> <p>Hayes, G. (2017). ‘Regimes of austerity’, <em>Social Movement Studies</em>, 16 (1): 21-35.</p> <p>Miliband, R. (1969).&nbsp;<em>The State in Capitalist Society</em>. London: Weidenfeld &amp; Nicolson.</p> <p>Offe, C. (1975). “The Theory of the capitalist state and the problem of policy formation’, in L. Lindberg, (ed.), <em>Stress and Contradiction in Modern Capitalism</em>. Lexington, Mass.: D. C. Heath, 125-44.</p> <p>Panitch, L. (1999). ‘The impoverishment of state theory’, <em>Socialism and Democracy</em>, 13 (2): 19-35.</p> <p>Poulantzas, N. (1978) [1968] Political Power and Social Classes. London: Verso. </p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ednref1">[i]</a> For the theory behind this empirical comment, see Barrow (2002:17-21).</p> <p><a href="#_ednref2">[ii]</a> This argument is succinctly elaborated by Aronowitz and Bratsis (2002: xiv).<strong></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Civil society Democracy and government Ideas International politics 1968 1968 Giorgos Charalambous Sat, 26 May 2018 13:02:12 +0000 Giorgos Charalambous 118080 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Establishing a federal Cyprus https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/gregoris-ioannou-giorgos-charalambous/establishing-federal-cyprus <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What are the regional and domestic forces helping - and hindering - a federal solution to the Cyprus issue?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-16006480.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-16006480.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A general view of Turkish controlled Cyprus from the roof of the former Ledra Palace Hotel inside the United Nations Buffer Zone between the Greek and Turkish controlled areas of the island. PAimages/Chris Ison. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Following up from <a href="https://chronos.fairead.net/establishing-the-ufc">our previous article</a> three months ago, we attempt to offer some analytic explanations concerning the process of negotiating Cyprus and to take a political position in it.</p> <p>It is safe to say that the Cyprus peace process, with the aim of establishing a type of federal state, is moving towards its conclusion in the next months. There cannot be business as usual after this: either there will be an agreement or a collapse of the negotiations, with a theoretical starting point some years later and under probably different political circumstances and with different stakes and aims. &nbsp;</p><p>Still, there remains political and diplomatic play to unfold, of which the importance is vividly illustrated in the absence of public predictions by the key players as to the eventual result of the ongoing process. It is unclear whether a high level convergence among major powers will materialize and shape the way for a referendum. Even then, it is also unclear whether the public is likely to accept - by a convenient majority - even the most mutually favourable plan.</p> <h2>On imperialism and ‘mother lands’</h2> <p>It has become obvious recently that the broader relations between Turkey and Greece - especially with respect to the demarcation of the Exclusive Economic Zones between the two states - is a key parameter of the peace process in Cyprus. The balance of power between Greece and Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean in general and in Cyprus in particular has been a key factor of the problem since the 1950s. </p><p>After the partition of Cyprus in 1974, a quasi equilibrium was reached with Turkey having the upper hand in the military field and Greece in the diplomatic field. As the Republic of Cyprus in Greek Cypriot hands was reinforced, it began resembling a de facto second Greek state. In a similar manner, the Turkish Cypriot Republic of Northern Cyprus (established in 1983), remains financially and logistically dependent on the Turkish state.</p> <p>It is evident that in the run up to the Geneva talks a few weeks ago, Greek-Turkish relations have become more autonomous from broader bi-lateral relations, regional institutions and global alliances. The negotiations demonstrate so far pretty much an image of Greece vs Turkey, without a clear position from the main powers involved (excepting the UN) toward pushing one or the other towards a more compromising stance. </p><p>In the effort of both sides to maintain a tough line, they also make loud statements aimed primarily for domestic consumption, but at the same time impacting negatively on the peace process and the climate in which it occurs. The quintessence of a hostile climate concerns the issue of trust by the people who will be called upon to vote for the agreement; the perception of the ‘barbaric Turk’ by the Greek Cypriots and of the ‘arrogant and nationalist Greek’ by the Turkish Cypriots has become consolidated as embodying concrete threats that may come to haunt them in a re-unified island. </p><p>In any case, the rivalry between Greece and Turkey is much bigger than Cyprus, and it is in this frame that the opposing statements from leading officials from the two governments need to be interpreted.</p> <p>As the negotiations evolve it also becomes increasingly clear that in the north, Turkey has an even bigger role to play than Greece in the south. In the Greek Cypriot community, the newly emerging tough stance of Greece, is more an extra boost to the local rejectionist forces and status quo interests, in that it can delay and even derail the prospect of an agreement.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Withdrawal cannot be immediate and cannot be total. This is not a stance that can be legitimated in Turkey’s political system; it is contrary to Erdogan’s profile as a leader and to Turkish Cypriot anxieties, desires and expectations.</p><p>The Greek stance at the same time is subject to Greek Cypriot pro-reunification pressures. And if an agreement is eventually reached, there are enough resources amongst the Greek Cypriot rejectionist forces to fight against reunification, even in defiance of a Greek government. </p><p>In the Turkish Cypriot community, the situation is different, and in some respects opposite. The fragmentation of pro peace political forces and the decreasing pro reunification mobilization potential, the enhanced and deeper cultural and economic penetration of Turkey into north Cyprus since 2004 and the (largely structural) weakness of the Turkish Cypriot leader to transcend the commands of the Turkish government render Erdogan as effectively the key agent that can prevent an agreement from happening now, but who can also push it through a referendum if an agreement is made.</p> <p>The reshaping of the geopolitical order after the collapse of the Soviet Union did not alter the balance in Cyprus, despite the changes occurring as both the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey began their path towards the EU. The negotiations in the early 1990s failed and the strategy of tension that followed created political conditions that obstructed the negotiations from proceeding to the final stage until the early 2000s, at the conjuncture when the Republic of Cyprus was to enter the EU and Turkey to gain the status of an EU candidate country. The rejection of the Annan Plan by the Greek Cypriots and the entry of the Republic of Cyprus into the EU without its effective control of the northern part of the island has made the EU an important voice in the Cyprus problem as well.</p> <p>This Greek Cypriot aim from the beginning becomes materialized only now, 13 years later in different circumstances and with EU and Turkey relations having taken a different form. The EU seeks to extend its control to north Cyprus through a solution of the Cyprus problem, ending not only an anomaly it has inherited, but also strengthening its geopolitical influence in the Eastern Mediterranean and its energy resources and routes. </p><p>Turkey seeks now to use Cyprus as a bargaining piece, not in order to pave its way into the EU as was the case 14 years ago, but in order to achieve recognition from the EU as a major power at its border with which the EU needs to have a special relationship. This new more direct EU-Turkey parameter in the Cyprus negotiation is not necessarily working in favor of reunification: it substantially enlarges the stakes and the issues under negotiation and may make an agreement more elusive at the present stage, and of a different sort in the medium term even by-passing the Greek Cypriot government of the Republic of Cyprus, if the current process collapses.</p> <p>Although Turkey’s final cards have not been played on account of domestic instability and a foreign policy with many open fronts, its desire to exchange its withdrawal from Cyprus with an understanding with the EU and Greece is clearly visible, primarily but not exclusively through the attitude of the Turkish Cypriot leadership.</p><p>But that withdrawal cannot be immediate and cannot be total. This is not a stance that can be legitimated in Turkey’s political system; it is contrary to Erdogan’s profile as a leader and to Turkish Cypriot anxieties, desires and expectations. The treaty of guarantees will have to be revised, but it cannot just evaporate into thin air – nor can half a century of political and military presence in the island.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Turkish position on Cyprus goes far beyond the intransigence of the Erdogan regime and into the diachronic security concerns among the Turkish Cypriots as well as Turkey’s geopolitical status in the Eastern Mediterranean. In this vein, a transitional period with a small and symbolic Turkish military presence and some role by Turkey in the security system currently being discussed is inevitable. Any absolute refusal as to this and more specifically the demands for an immediate and absolute withdrawal of Turkish troops, even before the enforcement of the agreement and the total exclusion of Turkey from the security system are simply out of touch with reality. And this without any serious prospects to maintain the current state of affairs in the political and economic fronts; that is, the continuing monopolization of the Republic in Greek Cypriot hands.</p> <p>There are significant issues that have not yet been agreed but the balance is more or less known and this will not lead to any one of the two sides retreating fully. Both will have to retreat so that they find themselves somewhere in the middle – rotating presidency with cross voting, the town of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morphou">Morphou</a> under Greek Cypriot administration but with rights of remain to the current population, total withdrawal of the Turkish army but at a gradual pace, abolition of Turkey’s right to unilateral intervention but maintaining Turkey in Cyprus’ security system.</p> <p>The UN refrains from pressurizing the two sides but it is clear that at some point it will have to call an end game in the current process. And in case of a collapse of the negotiations, it will most probably orient itself to an even more reduced role in the next period. The resumption of the talks at high level may have been postponed for April after the referendum in Turkey about the constitutional reform, but it is doubtful whether any substantial change will occur then.</p> <p>One may dismiss the Greek and Turkish governments’ nationalistic cries, yet there are material issues and real state interests besides the public opinion in the two countries. Although a compromise agreement between Greece and Turkey on Cyprus is very possible, it may not happen as both states see Cyprus as one piece in their broader interests and relations. In order to agree they must also reach a sort of understanding concerning the framework through which they would continue to compete and resolve the rest of their matters and specifically the demarcation of their exclusive economic zones.</p> <p>On the bigger plane, an agreement on the Cyprus problem can only be based on the acceptance by the US and the UK that Russia cannot be ignored in the Eastern Mediterranean. There are signs that this is feasible as Russia’s endurance in the global plane and more specifically in the Middle East, has made it clear that an agreement in Cyprus can only take place if Russia supports, or at least tolerates it. This would be reflected in the role of the Security Council, the transitional periods and the security system to be instituted.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-20116860.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-20116860.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A border crossing on Ledra Street, which separates the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot parts of Nicosia. PAimages/Jens Kalaene. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><h2>Politics on the ground: the two intra-communal camps</h2> <p>The main development in the last three months is the further strengthening of the two camps in favour and against the reunification process. In parallel, the cleavage separating them at both the social and political levels has been reinforced in discursive, organizational as well as political terms. </p><p>Fascist and other right wing street protests against the peace process and the prospect of a federal solution are becoming a standard. Protests come along with a series of other public events, such as panel discussions, petitions, open letters etc, by the “five centre parties”, ELAM and Church leaders as well as other nationalist and far-right wing groups, intellectuals and opinion leaders.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">In Cyprus, violence is not seen as an immediate concern, but rather a divisive mark from the past.</p> <p>The clearest statements in favor of a solution and most willing to support the process from the trade unionists and from the peace activists, as does pro-solution mobilisation. Business representatives are more divided with statements both for and against. The fact that the two main parties AKEL and DISY, fully support Anastasiades’ negotiation effort at this conjuncture is highly significant. Since the mid-1980s when they united against then President’s Spyros Kyprianou’s intransigence in the negotiations, each of the two parties (and especially AKEL) has been very careful to draw clear boundaries from the other’s position on the Cyprus problem. </p><p>Yet, in line of successive developments, with Anastasiades building on and carrying forward joint decisions made by Christofias without changing much, the political gap between AKEL and DISY on this issue has shrunk. To be sure, both sides retreated on previous stances throughout time. DISY has backtracked on its position in favor of NATO’s involvement in the process and of a “loose” federation, while AKEL has retreated from an overt emphasis on procedural matters and has refused to succumb to rejectionist internal and external pressures. &nbsp;</p> <p>Partly because this division between AKEL and DISY is not simply a political matter, the two parties’ ideological incompatibility is likely to play a role in determining internal opposition. Specifically AKEL and DISY dissenters are both openly and covertly intervening against the negotiations and against the prospect of an agreement in the current circumstances. These include both high profile personalities, who tend to be more careful, but also lower rank and local cadres. </p><p>Left-wing rejectionists evoke various things such as patriotism, internationalism, anti-imperialism, nationalism and even anti-capitalism. The argument of the most coherent rejectionist line inside AKEL itself more or less argues that too much is being conceded to foreign imperialism, of which Turkish expansionism is a manifestation. Inside DISY, opposition is essentially more traditionally nationalist, not in civic terms but on more ethnocentric lines.</p> <p>In the Turkish Cypriot community there is both continuity and change with respect to the political system and the various pro and anti reunification forces. The traditional right currently governing remains staunchly oppositional and undermines Mustafa Akinci’s efforts while occasionally clashing frontally with him using nationalist arguments and rhetoric. Old and new fascist and far right groups have also made their customary appearance, threatening the “traitors” and including in them not only trade unionists and leftists but also Akinci himself.</p> <p>The traditional left, although weaker and more fragmented today, firmly supports the reunification process, albeit without a mass movement shaping the political climate this time. The pro EU business groups and many civil society organizations and NGOs are also in favor of reunification and so is that segment of Turkish Cypriot society that feels alarmed with the developments in Turkey and the drift towards authoritarianism there.</p> <p>However, what seems to be holding the balance is the new centre-right party led by Kudret Özersay, who maintains close links with Turkey and who is ambivalent with respect to the reunification process. Although&nbsp;Özersay as a technocrat had supported reunification, as a politician today with polls showing his People’s Party as the most popular one in the north, he seems more interested in establishing himself in a pivot position in the political system. </p><p>Unlike the left which sees the future of the Turkish Cypriot community as passing through a federal Cyprus and unlike the right which sees value in the status quo,&nbsp;Özersay attempts to express a third position that prioritizes modernizing reform and Turkish Cypriot autonomy and refusing, for the moment, the dilemma of partition or federation.</p> <h2>Projections towards a pending definitive conclusion</h2> <p>The immediate purpose of agreements for ethno-nationalist conflict within countries is usually to freeze the military or paramilitary confrontations, and prevent violence from re-occurring. Both the Good Friday Agreement for Ireland and the Dayton Agreement for Bosnia-Herzegovina, for example, can be seen as ‘constructions of necessity’. </p><p>This is not the case in Cyprus where violence is not (and is not seen as potentially) an immediate concern, but rather a divisive mark from the past, which is becoming all the more distant in the minds of the local populations and is further diluted by the increasingly multi-cultural demographic composition of the island. </p><p>This very fact makes an eventual agreement very uncertain in form and nature. Both actually resolving the conflict and freezing it through de facto or formal partition are still possible options for all the players involved as the need for a solution may not be seen as urgent either in the domestic or international sphere. Yet, for progressive Cypriots, north and south, reunification is a matter of urgency as well as necessity, in terms of both substance and in terms of the potential to be unleashed in the process.</p> <p>If there is an agreement, a very polarized political conflict will unfold both north and south. But more so in the south where the outcome will be more uncertain and probably close. In the north since the agreement, if there is one, will have to be inevitably endorsed by the Turkish government, the nationalist rejectionist forces will be in a disadvantageous position. </p><p>In the Greek Cypriot community, the Greek government does not have this sort of leverage and will not be able to control the rejectionist forces. If there is no agreement, we expect changes to take place in the short and medium term. A deadlock will most probably be announced, a more blunt report should be expected from the UN and any future discussions will only take place after the passage of a couple years. </p><p>By then, the agency of different players could shape developments in different ways, most probably towards more partitionist directions.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/costa-carras/cyprus-dusting-off-peace-process">Cyprus: dusting off the peace process</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/christos-efthymiou/reflections-on-bicommunal-relations-in-cyprus">Reflections on bi-communal relations in Cyprus</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/umut-bozkurt/on-remembering-and-forgetting-reflections-on-long-summer-of-74-in-cy">On remembering and forgetting: reflections on the long summer of &#039;74 in Cyprus</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/vassilis-k-fouskas/cyprus-40-years-on-do-you-really-want-solution-abandon-realism">Cyprus 40 years on. Do you really want a solution? Abandon &#039;realism&#039;</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Cyprus </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Cyprus Giorgos Charalambous Gregoris Ioannou Cyprus: 40 years of hurt Mon, 06 Feb 2017 14:37:03 +0000 Gregoris Ioannou and Giorgos Charalambous 108619 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Fragmented we fight: what’s Left in Greece in 2015? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/fragmented-we-fight <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The openings produced by the Syriza phenomenon have been closed by Syriza itself. What, then, is the current state of the Greek political left with yet another national vote pending?&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/1372972117-syriza-president-alexis-tsipras-addresses-supporters-in-patras_2223594_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/1372972117-syriza-president-alexis-tsipras-addresses-supporters-in-patras_2223594_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>SYRIZA President Alexis Tsipras addresses supporters in Patras. Menelaos Mich/Demotix. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In the study of society and politics in contemporary Europe, Greece lends itself as a case of dynamism, growth, realignment, recomposition, fissure and fragmentation in the political arena. Over the last few years social contention has increased, producing an overhaul of the political system. This comes in the context of the deep economic crisis and its brutal neoliberal management through a variety of austerity measures that have devastated the overwhelming majority of the Greek society.</span></p> <p>In this article we focus on the developments of parties in Greece the left of the political spectrum and attempt an analysis of the conditions and dynamics in the current conjuncture. The Left constitutes an important parameter not only for the political system but also for the social movements and for the shaping of the dominant ideological frame – perhaps more so today due to the inherently fluid state of affairs.<strong> </strong></p> <h2><strong>Syriza’s experiment</strong></h2> <p>Syriza’s communication strategy under Tsipras’ leadership since 2008, and especially after 2010, was one premised on the potential of left governmentality and the shift from an oppositional imaginary into a ruling one. This was an experiment immersed in uncertainty from the very beginning. Everything was at stake –Syriza’s cohesion, its leadership’s popularity, the coercive capacity of the clientelistic Greek state, and the Troika’s and the EU’s true flexibility. </p> <p>The latter was a key expectation in Syriza’s strategising and one on which its programmatic positions were crafted. The slogan ‘No sacrifice for the Euro, no delusion for the drachma’ was quite popular back then but gradually it disappeared from the vocabulary of both members and officials.</p> <p>Challenging the dominant political paradigm, which has its origins in Synaspismos affirming that the solution had to be sought within the confines of the single currency, remained marginal within the party. Yet, the nucleus of the Eurozone - Germany, France and the European Commission - stayed firmly attached to the agenda they were warning Tsipras about months before he won the election of January 2015. </p><p>Potential allies, namely Italy, proved unstable, unable and unwilling to push for less strictness in dealing with Greece. The balance of power within the Eurozone and between the EU side and the IMF side of the Troika could not be shifted simply based on Syriza’s growing domestic and pan-European appeal. On none of the three main axes of the negotiations - the debt, structural reforms and budget balances – did the lenders balk. Both their ideological dogmas and their interests remained deeply entrenched and inelastic.</p> <p>Syriza had of course travelled a long distance from early 2012 to early 2015: diluting its political positioning on a variety of issues, flattening out the edges of its slogans, downplaying the more radical elements of its policy proposals and shelving some of them altogether in the context of a general drift to the right, while preparing to take over executive power. </p><p>This continued after its electoral victory in January 2015 when its inability or reluctance to implement its programme was covered by symbolic moves and by fully prioritising the negotiations with the international lenders. In a sense, the seeds of the eventual capitulation in July were sown in the previous years and watered in the previous months.</p> <p>Syriza gradually shifted towards the model of a ‘normal’ party, a broker party, which acted as a mediator between diverse interests. Within Syriza a core nucleus of leading officials designed and implemented government strategy, without systematic consultation with the party organs. Decision-making became increasingly centralised. </p><p>Local self-organisation gave way to hierarchical institutions of power and the pedagogical possibilities that characterised the party’s relations with the movements since the late 1990s were subsumed into careful balancing acts between the radical segments of the party, public opinion and the exigencies of power. Thereby, the drift of Syriza to the right between 2012 and 2015 was also escorted by demobilisation and the shift of contentious politics from the social to the political field – from the streets to the ballot box.</p> <p>Various commentators and activists had warned about this since approximately 2012, but attention remained focused not on the problem of Syriza but on that of Syriza taking power and exercising it in a radical way. Yet, the latter concern is largely dependent on the former’s appropriate resolution. For all its momentum Syriza was in 2015 still a new party, within which neither significant cohesion that could run the test of incumbency nor programmatic clarity that would suffice for full confrontation existed.</p> <p>Stathis Gourgouris <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/stathis-gourgouris/syriza-problem-radical-democracy-and-left-governmentality-in-g">described Syriza as</a> ‘a loose, self-contradictory, and internally antagonistic coalition of leftist thought and practice, very much dependent on the capacity of social movements of all kinds, thoroughly decentralized and driven by the activism of solidarity networks ...’.</p> <p>Even if this description held in its entirety at some point in time, the problem with Syriza is that, once in government and even before, it gradually stopped being all of the above. Its looseness disappeared as key issues in government policy was limited to a core circle of cabinet ministers. </p> <p>The internally antagonistic coalitions of leftist thought and practice turned into a distinction between the majority led by Tsipras and a minority expressed partially by the Left Platform. Whilst Tsipras and insisted on keeping Greece within the Eurozone the Left Platform hesitantly posed the Eurozone issue as an open question rather than as a finalised position but nevertheless chose not to argue in support of Grexit.</p> <p>Any sort of dialectical interaction between the positions and assessments of the various tendencies inside Syriza, even if these ceased to be institutionalised in 2013, was put on hold. All organisational and ideological processes that would lead to further development paused along with it. </p> <p>The party was no longer the main issue; running the state was. For a new party without highly developed structures and the lack of internal cohesion masqueraded by abolishing the system of tendencies, running the state is a tricky business. The practice of having those working for the party not participating in government may have worked in achieving the continuance of Syriza on the ground but it also resulted to the ground’s detachment from the party in public office.</p> <p>Many features portrayed by Syriza since February 2015 had previously been exhibited by <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Party_of_Working_People">AKEL</a>, the first case of a left-wing party heading the government in the EU and the Eurozone. In both cases, executive responsibility was accompanied by ideological moderation, consecutive compromises and populist rhetoric that was disproportional to the party’s traditional constituencies. </p> <p>The leadership of both parties premised their potential to govern on the basis of their more egalitarian programme based on the possibility of negotiating effectively within the ambit of Eurozone mechanisms, institutions, political dynamics and geopolitical surroundings. In both cases they failed. </p><p>If AKEL’s case did not affect the rest of the European radical left, the mainstream drift of Syriza has done damage already. It hurt the European anti-austerity movements and parties like Podemos, whose claims – that the Eurozone’s confines are adjustable – and tactics – to remain focused on a consensual mood and pursue institutional negotiations at the EU level – are inspired by assumptions previously defended by Syriza. </p><p>Cyprus may be viewed as too small to matter, the crisis hadn’t arrived when AKEL assumed power and the Cypriot communists never symbolised the movement-like dynamism of the anti-austerity march that Syriza contributed towards creating.</p> <p>&nbsp;As for Greece, the question of concern should not be if Syriza will be radically left-wing but, rather, if it will attract individuals and collectivities that are. Although, in theory, it is simply impossible for Syriza to truly represent at the same time those who stand to benefit from the third memorandum and austerity and those who stand to lose from them, Pasok was able to do so in the period 2009-2012. </p> <p>Syriza’s new identity may not be at stake at this point – its Pasokification seems inevitable – so if the party retains radical left activists, trade unionists, members and voters within its ranks, then it is stealing away from even the softest resistance to more austerity.</p> <h2><strong>The referendum and its aftermath</strong></h2> <p>The referendum was of critical significance and its impact on Greek society and politics has not yet been exhausted. In societal terms, it awoke parts of the movement and it has also allowed large segments of society to return to politics, to develop positions and express them in public. </p> <p>In political terms, it affected various components of the party system: change in the leadership of New Democracy, with an opening up of the question of that party’s orientation, the establishment of bridges between Syriza and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Front_of_the_Greek_Anticapitalist_Left">Antarsya</a> - as the No campaign was largely conducted by rank and file left-wing activists across the board and the revelation of To Potami as an ultra-neoliberal force having to shed any remaining centrist pretenses. </p> <p>Above all, it allowed for the crystallisation of the position of Eurozone exit within the ranks of Syriza and now Popular Unity. For the first time, a significant portion of former Syriza cadres and activists are explicitly calling for withdrawal from the Eurozone and have formulated a political programme based on this fundamental goal. It seems that it had previously been difficult for them to project this position based on speculation. Having to face the lenders’ ruthlessness proved to be detrimental for the next step in left-wing Euroscepticism.</p> <p>Indeed, since the referendum the underlying cleavage of divisions within the left concerns above all the issue of European integration. Syriza is arguing against the viability of a Eurozone exit and is willing to succumb to austerity at least for the moment; the position of Popular Unity projects Eurozone exit as the only progressive solution and, whilst willing to discuss EU membership, insists on practices that are as consensual as possible; Antarsya is calling for a rupture with both the Eurozone and the EU without concern for consensus and on the basis of a radical transition towards socialism; and the KKE insists on the immediate and complete socialisation of the means of production outside of the EU.</p> <p>Although the position of Antarsya, along with some other fringe left-wing groups, is closer to that of the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_Greece">KKE</a> rather than <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_Unity_(Greece)">Popular Unity</a>, their expectations, discussions and aborted attempts for common action have so far been orientated towards Popular Unity rather than KKE. </p> <p>There is an ideological reason as well as a practical one for this. The ideological reason is the Trotskyist emphasis on a ‘transitional’ programme of action whereby advanced reformist demands are articulated by revolutionaries who expect radicalisation as these demands cannot be accommodated in the current conjuncture by the bourgeois state. </p> <p>The practical reason concerns the historic isolationism of the KKE, a legacy of both its Stalinist tradition and its own mode of operation, which precludes any alliance with other political formations. These two factors have been relevant for some time now and the stance of KKE in the referendum has strengthened them further. </p> <p>The KKE’s decision to call for a blank vote bordered on narcissistic sectarianism, whereby the party, its structures, its ideology and its programme are not open to any kind of questioning, amendment or postponement. The issue was misidentified as an ideological rather than as a political one. </p> <p>That is why in real political terms, the KKE failed ‘to be there’, ready and capable of mobilising and leading the left after the capitulation of the Syriza leadership. It was such a huge opportunity that was missed, that one cannot but wonder if the KKE ever aimed at leading individuals and organisations that do not yet have a fully developed class-consciousness and are hesitant as to the potential for direct confrontation. </p> <p>Both within and outside parliament, the KKE has spent enormous resources vilifying the whole of Syriza, and more so its radical-left elements. In this light, it is as if the Communist Party as a shared experience rests on the refutation of any other kind of left-wing experiment, even ones that could be potentially won over to the party’s perspective on many issues. Above all, KKE views itself diachronically as the only truly revolutionary force. This is not based on an empirical assessment of the other left wing forces but more importantly constitutes a monist ontological premise that there can only be one vanguard of the working class.</p> <p>Inasmuch as electoral potential is concerned, Popular Unity is currently the front-runner in the attempt to revive Syriza’s popular radicalism. Nevertheless, its current appeal, weaknesses and opportunities have been delimited by mistakes made while its leaders were still members of Syriza. </p> <p>The decision to form a party may not have been an erratic one in the sense that a maturation process preceded the establishment of Popular Unity, time-wise, however, this maturation period was short. Many of those now leading or active inside Popular Unity had no idea they would soon form a new party before the referendum and had to face the confusion of a collective existential crisis. </p> <p>In any case, trusting the government too much, not preparing for this option and, in essence, for capitulation, Syriza’s left delayed significantly a left turn and this now carries significant costs for the anti-austerity forces; it limits its credibility, organisational cohesion and programmatic articulation.</p> <p>It is a medium-term matter whether Popular Unity can operate a different and radical signifying framework of political action. This is primarily, but not exclusively, an issue of party organisation. As points of command are established within the party structure so ideological tendencies crystallise into political trends.&nbsp;</p><p>The formation process of Popular Unity is indicative of the clay feet that the party will soon be standing on without a 25 strong parliamentary group. This is not an entity that is actively supported by the movements of which it is a part, as the movements themselves are still at awe, in total disarray and with the sense of defeat.</p> <p>Its economic programme, one based on the research and argumentation of a handful of economists, is full of contradictions, simplifications and ‘constructive ambiguities’. Clearly, there is still an amorphous space inside Popular Unity and in electoral terms this translates into an inclination not to push public opinion too far by suggesting two steps forward instead of one.&nbsp;</p><p>This is still a project in the making. It must not therefore be viewed as a ‘final product’ that will remain unchanged for the foreseeable future or that will not be subject to internal dynamics and antagonisms or the developments in relation to the other forces of the left.<strong></strong></p> <p>This is both the end of an era and the closing of a window of opportunity for the left. On the one hand it experientially revealed the limitations of a systemic fight, at least in what concerns the Eurozone, and it also exposed neoliberal fundamentalism in all its nakedness.&nbsp;</p><p>In the process of doing so, the referendum has repoliticised Greek society, opened up questions of EU membership and currency type. On the other hand, the third memorandum signed by Tsipras signifies political surrender and. more importantly, ideological defeat for the left. </p> <p>Whether this setback proves temporary or long lasting remains, of course, an open question that depends on a series of factors both in relation to the social reception of the new austerity package in Greece, as well as regarding the developments in the economies and societies of other European countries. </p> <p>The social and political openings produced by the Syriza phenomenon have been closed by Syriza itself. Yet political processes such as the rise of an anti-austerity force from obscurity to power and political events such as the defiance by a bankrupt state’s citizens for the Troika’s final offer, are now historical precedents. They are present and ready to be taken on by new forces in search of signifiers for rupture.</p><p><em>If you enjoyed this article then please consider liking <em><strong>Can Europe Make it?</strong></em> on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/caneuropemakeit">Facebook</a> and following us on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/oD_Europe">@oD_Europe</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/pavlos-eleftheriadis/why-i-am-standing-as-candidate-for-to-potami-in-upcoming-gre">Why I am standing as a candidate for To Potami in the upcoming Greek election</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/stathis-gourgouris/syriza-problem-radical-democracy-and-left-governmentality-in-g">The Syriza problem: radical democracy and left governmentality in Greece</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> Greece </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Greece EU Gregoris Ioannou Giorgos Charalambous Fri, 18 Sep 2015 23:53:12 +0000 Giorgos Charalambous and Gregoris Ioannou 96084 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Giorgos Charalambous https://www.opendemocracy.net/content/giorgos-charalambous <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Giorgos Charalambous </div> </div> </div> <p>Giorgos Charalambous teaches politics at the University of Cyprus. Currently, he is completing a co-edited volume on <em>Left Radicalism and Populism in Europe</em>, forthcoming in 2019 with Routledge.</p> Giorgos Charalambous Thu, 17 Sep 2015 18:06:01 +0000 Giorgos Charalambous 96089 at https://www.opendemocracy.net