Monday, March 2, 2015

Fun Learning: What does SYRIZA understand by the word "socialism"?

After the NATO installment, we move to a different question that arose in Greece and abroad: namely, what is SYRIZA's view of socialism? Does SYRIZA proclaim itself a socialist party, and if so, in what sense? What, ultimately, does it mean by "socialism"? Let's review some of the answers party cadres gave since 2009:

1. Socialism is a superior socioeconomic system in comparison to capitalism. It is based on the concentration of means of production and distribution, which smashes the obstacles set to the development of productive forces by capitalist ownership and by production with the profit motive. This socialization will eliminate the capitalist anarchy of production and will render possible the planning of the economy for the benefit of the working social whole. SYRIZA Communist Tendency Contribution to the Party Program, May 2013
2. To us, socialism is a form of the organization of society which is based on social --not state-- ownership, and the admininistration of the means of production, while requiring democracy in all the cells and jointures of public life, so that workers can plan, direct, control and protect production through their elected organs, directing it to the satisfaction of social needs. At the same time, however, socialism is not for us a copy of models that have attempted to ground themselves in such ideas, but ended up misinterpreting them, distorting them, and finally, for many and complex reasons, self-destructing. Foundational Declaration of SYRIZA, July 2013

3. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, our Left, that tries to tear down the walls all around us, faces a single message: socialism will be democratic or will not exist. Alexis Tsipras, November 2009.

4. If we want socialism, we must first stand on our feet. When we are ready. First, we have to overcome the crisis, winning the trust of the markets with a balanced budget, something that will take us four or five years. Alexis Tsipras, April 2014

5. After the experience of the 20th century and the collapse of the regimes of actually existing socialism, the evocation of "socialism" does not constitute a response with a real content.  On the contrary, it suggests the need to refound and redefine the meaning of socialism, in relation to democracy, freedom, sustainability, in such a way as to conjoin the critique of the past and the needs of the present and future. Minister Yannis Dragasakis, November 2013

6. Solidarity, equality, freedom, democracy, justice are the necessary, given the conditions, axes around which we must build the strategy of the new, broad, open vehicle that SYRIZA must become [...] [we need] the productive reconstruction of our country. With the citizens on the front line. With the youth on the front line. With the movements of questioning and emancipation on the cutting edge. Because the new, open vehicle of the Left, must express precisely the value dynamic  of a democratic, open, participatory Socialism -- the only one that can exist today. Current Attica District Director Rena Dourou, October 2012

7. To us, socialism is not the restoration of a social state of a different epoch, nor the revival of bureaucratic regimes, from whose contradictions we have much to learn; socialism is the construction of a world that is radically new, but from materials that exist today. They exist where labor and social struggles raise their heads, where an economy of solidarity comes forth to solve survival problems, where self-management becomes the normal way out for employees, where the world of labor and youth self-organizes for struggle, because it refuses to leave its life in the hands of corporate games and of the state, because it refuses to live in fear of repression and fascism. For us, socialism is the extension of democracy and equality to all spheres of social life. SYRIZA Youth, November 2013

8. [...] the issue of socialism cannot be posed in terms of an obsession with the "holy script" of Marxism-Leninism, nor as a dividing line between "revolutionaries" and "systemic forces". Socialism is not a possible destination as the reverse countdown of a clock mechanism [sic], according to which its time has come and it has already been decided what should happen. On the contrary, the problems that make people realize the need to change their lives make socialism a possible process through the discontinuity of history [sic]. Konstantinos Zagaras, October 2014

9. To us, socialism is a form of the organization of society that is based on the social ownership and administration of means of production. It demands democracy in all the cells of social life, where the collective concretely demonstrates its superiority in relation to individualism and where solidarity prevails in relation to competition, so that workers are able to plan, direct, control and protect production, through their elected instruments, directing it to the satisfaction of social needs. SYRIZA Party Official Rules, August 2013

10. SYRIZA has declared socialism as its ultimate goal, "aiming finally in the elimination of relations of exploitation, the abolition of social classes and patriarchal relations and the harmonious symbiosis of society and nature", thus having met, since its inception, with left feminism. Aphrodite Stambouli, July 2013

11. The aim of SYRIZA is Socialism of the 21st century, a socialism with Democracy and Freedom, said the speaker [Education Min. Aristidis Baltas].  This goal is not only possible but is daily being realized through the struggles for public space and public goods, through solidarity networks, in which thousands of people participate, disinterestedly, every day. The goal of SYRIZA is to condense and systematize this whole process and to transform it into a political program, he indicated. In the strategic horizon of socialism there is a society beyond profit, a society in which the means of production will be socialized but not state-owned, he underlined. This society is not given away for free but is won through battles, ruptures and breaks. Account of a speech by Aristidis Baltas, December 2012.

12. The only hopeful approach is the one that led SYRIZA to the position it has today. It is the clear adoption and promotion of the values and visions of the Left for another society, a socialist society, where, instead of profit-making and exploitation, what will prevail is the goal of answering real social needs.  It is the concrete and contemporary application of the value arsenal of the Left --today, not in the Second Coming-- like solidarity, intransigent trust in the dynamics of the collective, the encouragement and deepening of self-management experiments and of an alternative organization and economy. It is the proud support of the democratic framework of the Left, where polyphony and the synthesis of different views are taken as a great advantage of a Left party, however much they are slandered by the borderless jungle of the mass media.  It is the ethos, the disinterest, the militancy and the social movement reference point of leftists who constitute the basic advantage for the planning and realization of a policy aiming at the immediate reversal of the humanitarian crisis and the foundation of new structures of social organization. It is the class bias, which gives the Left the possibility of grasping the dynamics of internationalist solidarity, unlike the short-sighted and dangerous ethnocentric rhetoric. It is, ultimately, the vision of socialism, it is the realist power that our freedom to dream gives the Left. Alexis Benos, June 2014

13. To us, socialism is not a state that may be instituted through an evolutionary process of gradual changes in capitalism, but neither is it a state that can be instituted outright. Socialism is a goal, but it is also a path of continuous struggle, with periods of intensification and recession, with ruptures, leaps and great breaks. It is a path whose goals are long-term, but which always starts from today. It is a path that the multitude walks in common, steadily committed to the goal, daily materializing the demands that constitute it, and struggling to digest the relevant victories. It is a path where we constantly try to cancel out the diachronically dominant distinctions we referred to, beginning with ourselves. It is a path that has a specific goal, but cannot answer all the major questions in advance, because the answers cannot be expressed in all their dimensions independently of the movement of society. Foundational Declaration of SYRIZA, July 2013

14. The exit from the crisis we seek must be prospectively embedded within a strategy for the overcoming of capitalism itself. The employee classes, the new generations, Greek society in general, have the opportunity today not only to envision but also to claim a better future.  To demand a society of solidarity, equality, freedom and justice. A society without exploitation and oppression. A socialist society. 

All of the above – immediate measures against the consequences of the crisis, the political plan for exiting the crisis, and the socialist prospect are for us organic parts of a single militant process. Dealing with the immediate problems and the short term duties will contribute, on the one hand to the further delegitimation of neoliberalism and on the other, it will open the path to seeking convincing answers to specific but also foundational issues like what do we produce and how we produce it; how we distribute produced wealth and what we consume; how we reproduce our society and ourselves; how we protect and creatively use the environment; how we obtain, develop and use knowledge in the interests of the whole society; how we define public space and collective goods; how we protect everyone's individuality and particularity and contribute to everyone's emancipation; how we perceive social, political and individual rights; how we contribute to the organization of democracy and institutions how we bring about and guarantee the full participation of employees themselves in the shaping of their way of life. SYRIZA Party Program, August 2013

1 comment:

  1. I guess I prefer to skip analyses I 've written on Greek politics (and I've written many), because it seems to me more useful for people to actually grasp the elementary character of the parties I am talking about in this blog. I don't think this is easily done without some acquaintance with their own voices as parties, with what they've been saying to the Greek people and what they have been doing in Greece and abroad. I very seldom see anything abroad that is not a pleasant public relations piece and that shows any actual knowledge of its subject.

    Of course, given that they are not even empirically correct analyses, they are very seldom Marxist analyses, either. Throwing words like "struggle" and "subversive" randomly around does not a Marxist make.