How to Cure Yourself of Leftism
In January 2015, I was one of those poor sods who believed that voting for Syriza would be a good idea. The reason was that I thought that Europe had tired of a programme that did not work and was looking for a way to offer something different. However, the loss of political face this would entail would be internally damaging for politicians in the creditor countries. Therefore, I managed to convince myself, an anti-austerity government in Greece would offer opportunity for a new pro-growth settlement. Alas, I was horribly wrong.
Creditor nations felt like something needed change, but this was motivated by fatigue with the Greek problem, rather than cracks in their belief that austerity works. Nonetheless, Varoufakis got better terms in February 2015 that were on offer to Samaras earlier, when an extension to Greece’s second bailout was agreed. From that point onwards everything went to hell, as Varoufakis chose to present the February deal as a defeat and proceeded to wage war on the Troika. Following the glorious example of First World War generals, Varoufakis and Tsipras sacrificed what was left of the economy in pursuit of glory. By March 2015 it was evident to objective observers that Syriza was on a path to disaster. I regretted at that point having supported them. I still regret it. Being stuck in London, I did not actually get to vote for them, but I feel guilty nonetheless.
You all know what followed. The glorious summer battles, the heroic referendum. The sudden capitulation, followed by the pogrom of the ‘drachmists’ and the revalidation of Syriza’s path to ruin in September 2015. Tsipras brought us Memorandum No 3, then predictably failed to act on his promises, failed to finish the evaluations that triggered payments, brought the country this spring to the brink of another credit crunch, in order to capitulate yet again. This latter capitulation (that opens the tap drip-dripping funds with which to pay creditors while the economy withers and dies from lack of investment) comes with a list of measures that would make Reagan blanche and Thatcher choke on her scones. The worse of statism and neoliberalism put together. A horror of almost universal originality.
How is this explained to the Greek population, and why isn’t there more reaction? Syriza started saying they would be better than Samaras and Venizelos. When they failed at that, they claimed they would be better than the supposedly corrupt and entangled governments that came after the dictators. When they failed at that, they claimed that the mind blowing surrender of sovereignty inherent in the new permanent memorandum, is better than the 400 years of Turkish occupation (all these come from Syriza MPs and minister pronouncements). I shudder to think what they will be better than next.
Having completely abandoned each and every electoral (and pre-electoral) promise they ever made, Syriza members have descended to incoherent and surreal nonsense in trying to justify their continued occupation of the government. They claim alternatively that they are blackmailed into accepting horrible measures; or that the measures are actually good; or that they are bad, but not accepting them would do their enemies bidding; or that they agree to things but will not implement them; or that the NAI supporters are to blame, even though OXI won the referendum; or (and this is the latest one by some character named Kyritsis) that they have been elected in order to wage class war, to pass the burden of Greece’s collapse on the wealthy classes. All in all a difficult to follow cataclysm of divisive, inappropriate, nonsense. And this torrent of stupidity is of course not confined to Syriza. Kammenos, this monument to the nation’s suicidal tendencies, declared the measures that he had just voted in Parliament to be criminal and unconstitutional and vowed to resist them. And then we wonder why Greece has a credibility problem.
Why am I telling you all this –most of which you know-? I want to declare myself cured of leftism. For most of my career I was writing and publishing nice progressive pieces about democracy, neoliberalism, the rule of law, the role of the left in progressive politics etc etc.
Mr Tsipras, I thank you. You have cured me of leftism once and for all.
No amount of abstract theorising compares with what the left can do once in power. Nothing compares with a group of people, so sure of their own moral superiority, of their own goodness, that they will do anything and everything to maintain their position of power. No shame, no remorse, no regard for consequences, no end to the party – till the party is over. I will no longer be a cheerleader of the left.
I argued for democracy – the people voted for a bunch of thieves
I argued for choice – the people chose fairy-tales and closed their eyes to reality
I argued for self-determination – the left sold its soul and the nation with it
I argued for sovereignty – the left chose their jobs
I argued for enlightenment – the left offered bullshit instead of the truth
The left sold out, for their MPs salaries, for jobs for their friends. After it sold out it embarked on a war of slogans to misdirect the anger against it. The left in Greece changed the narrative of the crisis from a failure of political-economic-cultural system into a fairy tale of invasion, special interests and economic occupation. People have been sold seaweed for silk ribbons (a Greek saying) and they knowingly bought it.
How to cure yourself of leftism? Study the Greek crisis.