Panagiotis Sotiris: Greece: Social struggles, political crisis and the challenges for Left strategy





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Published on Dec 28, 2013

Organizacija: Centar za radničke studije (CRS) / Organized by: Centre for labour studies (radnickistudiji.org)
Saturday, October 19th 2013, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Zagreb 18.15-19.45
Conference_Predicaments of the Left: Conjunctures, Strategies, Perspectives / Konferencija_Dileme ljevice: poteškoće, strategije, perspektive
Keynote lecture
Panagiotis Sotiris, Greece: Social struggles, political crisis and the challenges for Left strategy

Moderator: Marko Kostanić

For more than three years Greece has been the test-site for a huge experiment in neoliberal social engineering. The Greek debt crisis, itself the combined result of the crisis of the Greek 'developmental paradigm', the global capitalist crisis and the crisis of the Eurozone, led to the imposition of a condition of limited sovereignty by the so-called 'Troika' (EU- IMF -- ECB) and the implementation of extremely violent austerity programmes that have led to deep recession, poverty and record unemployment. This has led not only to a social crisis without precedent for Greece but also to a deep political crisis and ruptures in traditional relations of political representation. A crucial aspect of this process has been an impressive sequence of social and political protest and contention of an almost insurrectionary character. All these have led to the possibility that the Left might reach governmental power. Facing this challenge of SYRIZA, the main force of the Greek Left, has opted for a strategy of achieving governmental power in order to renegotiate the agreements with the creditors while remaining within the Eurozone. Contrary to this form of left-wing pragmatism, I will argue that a potential left-wing government must be seen as part of a broader strategy for social transformation. Such a strategy must be based upon a radical programme that should include the break with the Eurozone and the EU along with measures such as nationalizations of banks and strategic enterprises, upon a combination of governmental power with new forms of self-organization, solidarity and struggle from below, and upon an experimentation with new forms of self-management and workers' control. In this sense, the Left can emerge as the driving force behind a new "historical bloc" of the forces of labour and other subaltern classes, offering not just a rejection of austerity but an alternative narrative for society, in order to answer not only the authoritarian neoliberalism dictated by the Troika and embraced by Greek capital, but also the appeal of neofascism.

Panagiotis Sotiris (b. 1970), teaches social theory, social and political philosophy at the Department of Sociology of the University of the Aegean, in Mytilene. His theoretical interests include Marxist and contemporary philosophy, radical social theory and the theory of imperialism. He writes regularly about social and political developments in Greece, especially after the beginning of economic crisis and the austerity packages. A university union activist, he is also a member of the coordinating committee of ANTARSYA, the front of the Greek Anticapitalist Left.



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