Recently, as you probably know, the winner of the Greek election turned out to be the socialist party Syriza, or ‘Coalition of the Radical Left’. Even the name is enough to suggest the ideological positions party members are coming from, alongside the fact that their former communist leader, Alexis Tsipras named their child Orpheus Ernesto, a possible tribute to Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara. Their economic stance, however, shall be far more influential in the months to come: an opposition to austerity. When first hearing of them, I thought that their political and economic views clashed somewhat, given the nature of the organisation which they have sparked tensions within, this being the European Union.
I think we can all agree that the EU was founded on broadly leftist principles. Themes of proletarian internationalism can be seen within it, for example. To demonstrate this, the political climate in the United Kingdom, (whose situation shall likely be similar to that of other countries) is one under which the debate on EU membership has assumed ideological characteristics: the left support it, whilst significant movement on the right oppose it.
But the leader of the British Labour Party, Ed Milliband, according to the Telegraph newspaper, was once forced to deny that he was an ‘old-fashioned socialist’ highlighting the extent to which socialism in mainstream British politics has been watered-down. Tsipras, on the other hand, whilst perhaps not reflecting the characteristics seen in the KKE (Communist Party of Greece), would obviously uphold and practise far more radical views than Milliband, and yet what the Greek Prime Minister intends to bring to the scene of international politics was described by Andrew Smart, in an article published by the Idler Academy, as ‘two fingers to the tyranny of the cult of productivity.’
It’s this description that I’m interested in, as the conclusion I’ve come to is this: The European Union is no longer a leftist organisation. Whatever socialist principles it was founded upon have dried up with the current recession, and perhaps only the most moderate of Europe’s contempory left see anything in the union anymore. Jean-Claude Juncker does not strive for ‘international justice’ and ‘economic liberation for the proletariat’ or even any moderate imitations of true socialism: He wants to put an end to debt, and will happily wait for the countries of both Eastern and Western Europe, no matter how dismal or prosperous their economies, to pay. This will translate to bad news for their citizens. A slogan used by the Communist Party USA; ‘People and Nature before Profits’, in my opinion, outlines a programme which the EU should adopt.
Tsipras is the first to take a significant stance, and I can only hope he’s not the only one. I’d like to see this as the point at which the parties of Europe are beginning to realise that whilst debt presents significant concern, the demands of the people must come first. In any case, one can determine not only from the conditions causing the election result in Greece, but also the hostile attitudes it caused within the EU, the true nature of the organisation. Based in Brussels, the European Union is currently an aloof bureaucracy centred on the elimination of debt at the cost of wellbeing, when it should learn to value the peoples’ urgent needs more, especially in cases such as Greece today.