January 22, 2015
It is not only geography that is destiny as Napoleon claimed. The historical tradition of a given community has a role to play as well. And so, just like two and a half thousand years ago, Greece is once again in the position to revolutionize Europe and provide it with the possibility of a new beginning. As in the ancient days of Socrates and Plato, this beginning is radically different from what is, from the given status quo, from everything that we have come to believe to be the unchanging framework of our daily life.
Liberation from the political, economic and intellectual chains is bound to be difficult and dramatic, but this Greek turn of events is the only way to extricate Europe from those who have humiliated it and made it “wash dishes” for the “dinner” they had made themselves. This is precisely how the relationship between the EU and the US was described by the influential American geopolitical author and historian Robert Kagan. And let’s recall that he is the husband of Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, who, with her particular comment about the EU last year, brought a note of sincerity into the discourse of US diplomacy.
Even though many in Europe years ago got bored with “washing the dishes” in which Kagan found the heights of the European civilization in the 21st century, a credible and just political alternative was long time in coming. And now, more precisely on January 25, an emancipatory political project has a great probability of coming to power in Greece.
The project in question is SYRIZA, a leftist political grouping which has, under the leadership of the young engineer Alexis Tsipras, united almost all progressive political forces in Greece and was already quite successful in the last year’s elections for the European Parliament. Now, at the snap parliamentary elections, scheduled due to the inability of the Greek Parliament to elect the president of the country last month, SYRIZA can count on at least the third of the votes. This will make it enable to form a goverment with the coalition of ideologically like-minded political parties. This will be the first authentically leftist government not only in the history of Greece, but also in the recent history of the EU.
At the same time, this victory will in a certain way also represent the atonement for all the victims in the struggle for social justice and equality, first in the Greek Civil war (which the Montenegrin writer Mihajlo Lalic so vividly depicted in his reports and novels), and then during the NATO-supported neofascist Greek military junta and their seven-year long bloody rule.
It is clear of course that the resolution of past injustices is not possible without openly confronting the injustice of the present moment. This is why Tsipras convinced Yanis Varoufakis, the well-known university professor of economic theory and the author of “Global Minotaur”, the best-selling book on the origins of the global financial crisis, to accept to be a candidate on the SYRIZA parliamentary list and most likely take a position of the finance minister in the new government. Famous for his non-conformism, Varoufakis wrote on his blog that he would keep the letter of resignation in his pocket at all times to present it right away if his plan for economic recovery was not being implemented.
This plan encompasses something that could be referred to as the “European New Deal”. It starts out from the fact that the manner in which the EU institutions attempted to solve the Greek crisis with the so-called austerity measures only compounded the already horrendous economic reality. The money from the gigantic bailouts did not lead to the economic growth since most of it was spent on the re-financing of the debt which inexorably grew. The unemployment remained high, with the youth unemployment rising to more than 50%, while the poverty rapidly spread throughout most of the middle class. The only ones who have had continued benefits from the bailouts are the bankers because the credits are now being repaid not only by the citizens of Greece, but also by the citizens of all EU nations. There is no doubt that this state of affairs breeds social chas of huge proportions and can easily shake the very foundations of the EU.
This is why Varoufakis proposes the Greek debt cancellation (along the principles of the German debt cancellation after the WWII) , and then the transformation of the European Central Bank into a Development Bank which would invest in the large European infrastructure projects and in this way open hundreds of thousands of job positions. He stresses that there is consideration for the Greek exit from the Eurozone but what has to be done is for the Eurozone to be re-shaped from the inside in order to overcome the recession and fuel economic growth. This would also lead to the EU’s gepolitical strengthening and its emancipation from Kagan’s “kitchen”.
In line with that, the key component of the SYRIZA political program concerns the change of the direction in the Greek foreign policy, from the slavish following of the Atlanticist interests to the autonomous foreign policy contributing to global peace, solidarity, and cooperation among different nations. The concrete steps include the recall of the Greek soldiers from Afghanistan, the closing of all foreign bases on the Greek territory, and the exit from NATO.
I think that the coming to power of SYRIZA in Greece will have a great beneficial influence on what is considered politically possible not only in Montenegro, but also in Europe in general. I am certain that the leftist political forces will receive a strong forward wind in their sails and that the bankrupt ideas of Atlanticist neoliberalism, promoted and implemented in Montenegro by the corrupt regime of Milo Djukanovic, will rapidly become the thing of the past. And so will the propaganda claims of NATO as the symbol of the “European values” increasingly become rejected by all rational people.
Originally published in the Montenegrin daily newspaper Vijesti on January 20, 2015. Translated into English by the author.