On Syriza and its Recent Victory in the General Election in Greece

February 8, 2015 at 3:21 pm (Uncategorized)

The following post contains excepts from a document on the electoral victory of Syriza in Greece written by the comrades of the TPTG group. Since the document is too long to post in its entirety here, we have chosen to reprint the opening paragraph and the appendix. To read the entire document, please visit Internationalist Perspective’s site here.


On the 25th of January of 2015, for the first time in Greek history, a left-wing party, SYRIZA, won the general elections with a majority of 36.34%, 8.5 percentage points above Nea Dimokratia (“New Democracy”), the traditional right-wing party and the main force of the departing government coalition. However, SYRIZA didn’t win an absolute majority since it gained 149 seats in the parliament (a minimum of 151 seats is needed to win a vote of confidence). In consequence, they formed a coalition with “Anexartitoi Ellines” (“Independent Greeks”), a right-wing nationalist populist party which gained 4.75% of the votes and 13 seats in the parliament. Such a collaboration became possible due to the firm opposition of “Anexartitoi Ellines” to the memoranda austerity programs in the previous years despite the great differences in issues like immigration and foreign policy between the two parties…

Appendix: On some theoretical debates inside SYRIZA that were quickly
put aside

The anti-state communist minority in Europe and elsewhere, who still concern themselves with issues of communization, the capitalist state and value theory might be interested to know that one of the main architects of SYRIZA’s program – and a member of the negotiating team of the new government with the rest of the EU member-states- was, until some years ago, the main theoretician of the Althusserian faction of SYRIZA and a leading critic of the neo-gramscian state theory and the left ricardian labour theory of value!

Here are some interesting quotes from his texts:

It’s the parliamentary “filtering” of the different class practices (the practices not only of the bourgeoisie and its allies but also of the working class and its allies) that makes their “representation” inside the state feasible; that makes their subsumption to the general capitalist interest practicable… It’s not a particular party but the whole parliamentary system that ties the lower classes to the “political class” of capitalist rule. It’s not a particular party but the capitalist state as a whole that constitutes the real “party”, the real “representative” of capital, the political condensation of capitalist rule. That’s why, since the era of Marx, all the “visions” and the attempts of the reformist political vehicles to “conquer” and socialize the state have ended to the nationalization of the visionaries and a rude awakening.

Classical political economy was an embodied labour theory of value and a theory of the exploitation of wage labourers by propertied classes. The main currents of Marxism adopted this classical theory of value and exploitation by removing Marx’s critique of it. This theoretical mutation is closely connected to the ideological and political mutation of the Left from a movement of radical contestation to a power of management and reform of the capitalist system… In its “conservative” version this problematic raises the issues of the “fair” pay of the worker, her “dignified living conditions”, pay rises in accordance to productivity of labour etc. In other words, the immediate demands of the workers in their conflict with capital are raised to the status of a “social ideal”, since the forms of capitalist relations of power are taken as a “necessary fact”. In its “radical” version this classical theory of value and exploitation envisages a “capitalism without private capitalists”: “socialization”, i.e. public property of means of production goes hand in hand with the maintenance of all forms of capitalist economy and the capitalist state… The transition from capitalism to communism is necessarily related to the abolition of value form, i.e. money and
commodity, and the form of enterprise.

Fair enough, Dr. Milios! Thanks for this excellent critique of reformist politics! But what has this self-understanding got to do with SYRIZA’s program? Absolutely nothing! The problem of disconnection of theory and practice is well known in the revolutionary movement ever since the era of German social democracy. Many decades ago, Paul Mattick had criticized Kautsky for his inability to imagine that a Marxist theory should be supplemented by an adequate Marxist practice. So, his understanding “that for Marx, value is a strictly historical category; that neither before nor after capitalism did there exist or could there exist a value production which differed only in form from that of capitalism” was totally useless.

With the academicization and professionalization of Marxist theory in the last decades things have become even worse. In public political meetings, conferences, reading groups, summercamps, demos etc. one constantly comes upon hundreds of leftist PhD students, researchers, journalists etc. Most of the times one finds herself wondering whether it is a genuine interest in anti-capitalist politics that brought them there or if this involvement is just a necessary step towards a profession guaranteed by the capitalist state, a capitalist enterprise or a reformist party


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: