Syriza are not the limits of our dreams


Austerity was never going to be defeated by the vote. We don't live in an economic democracy, we live in an economic dictatorship where only those with vast wealth determine its course. Parliament provides a useful illusion, one that limits our dreams and stops us acting to make them a reality. The real defeat in Greece will not be the capitulation of Syriza but rather if that capitulation is broadly accepted as the end of the road of struggle.

Less that a week ago the dream that austerity could be voted away reached it's heights with the 61% OXI in Greece. Today much of the left internationally is despondent and demoralised at the speed at which that illusion was brought crashing down by the very party they had placed such hopes in.

But really none of this should have been a shock, not only was the capitulation predictable it was predicted even before Syriza got elected. Those who now shelter the weakness of their analysis behind words like betrayal are simply refusing to learn the lessons from the Syriza experience, as are those who present an exit from the euro as some sort of magic bullet. Often their motivation is cynical, they were using Syriza as a motivator to build their own electoral base so pointing to betrayal rather than an underlying flaw is essential to retaining some of that base.

That is the real betrayal, that of telling Greeks and indeed all those fighting austerity around the globe that it could be voted down. That voting for a better bunch of guys offered a real solution. And this very often advocated as an alternative to the difficult route of struggle and revolutionary change, that route is only to be sneered at. Now we are to be believe that the guys voted for were just not as good as we thought but it will be better 'next time'? The use of the word betrayal is always followed by talk of the next time when things will be different.

Power does not lie in parliament, it never has and it never will. Parliamentary democracy was designed to ensure that universal suffrage would not lead to the poor voting to redistribute the wealth of the rich to create an equal society.

As the anarchist Kevin Doyle put it "From the 1850s onwards, against a background of great new wealth in society and a working class that was more independent and resourceful, the 'problem of democracy' became urgent for the rich and powerful. In general wealth was rising throughout society, but so was the greed of those who owned the new factories, mines and plantations. The key question was: what was to be done about the general demand for democracy, and about the incessant clamour for political rights which, during the revolutions of 1848, had almost got completely out of hand?

Maintaining their privilege and wealth while generally conceding a semblance of democracy was the principal aim of the 'rich and privileged' during the second half of the 19th century. Parliament is a means of diffusing democracy, of channelling real struggles into a safe dead-end. Time and time again it has become a graveyard for the workers' movement."

Power does not lie in parliament but rather in our hands, but only when we come together and built our own institutions in the workplace and community. Elections might look like a short cut, they may appear to be the pragmatic choice but pragmatism is just another word for betrayal.


Thanks to Irma for the images from "somewhere in Athens "

WORDS: Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )