There is a Robinson Crusoe-like syndrome among Albanians, which can be dissected in two psychological moments. The first, a feeling of isolation which comes not only as a political isolation of the present and past, but also as a mentality which rarely steps over the home-border of social and political commitment. Such a phenomenon produces the second psychological moment, which is a misinterpretation that goes beyond Balkan politics.
Such shallowness of expertise is very visible when discussing Greece. Many self-declared experts of international politics in most of the cases just insist on falling within the coordinates of collective prejudice, such as “the Greeks are genetically flawed”, at the point of recklessly producing analyses which do not coincide with the political reality of Greece or the influence of the Greek crisis on Europe and the Balkans.
SYRIZA has frequently become the subject of such criticism. Using its logo as a leftist radical force, our “experts” have shed prejudice from the very beginning, associating in a pervert way the party’s existence with Albanian communism; by using an illogical rule, they have built up the wicked logic, which has been used not only for the Greeks but for Albanians as well.
For this reason, it becomes necessary to see beyond the walls of prejudice and analyze the influence of SYRIZA on Greece and the politics for which it stands for, in a time when all serious polls suggest the party will lead the country through the arduous route of recovery from the crisis, after the upcoming elections. Also, of utmost importance is the analysis of the influence which such governing party will have on Europe, as a future political universality of the Balkans.
SYRIZA has been created from the unification of many small parties, student groups, worker and peasant associations, which come from a strong sense of Greek anti-fascism. This tradition dates back from the 30-year battle of Greek leftists against the leadership of generals. This is why the Greek university has become the center of anti-authoritarian politics production; the Greek universities and students of the ’70 were the ones to give way to the wave of transformation from fascism to democracy. The father of SYRIZA’s leader Alexis Tsipras, was one amidst thousands of casualties during the Greek regime. The second moment of the merger of these groups into a single political party has to do with the insufficiency of space within the Greek communist party (KKE), which, in complete incoherence with modern political and economic developments of Europe, preserves an obsolete model of Stalinist politics.
These are the reasons why everyone who associates SYRIZA with the far-gone concept of Stalinism, has no clue about the Greek situation and developments. Such an association is the product of speculation and ignorance; both heavy sins for whoever takes the bid to inform the public.
The party’s coherent political attitude in favor of the poor against the speculators of Greek business and politics, and the absolute modernization of a totally democratic internal space, has transformed SYRIZA in a short period of time from a small party, to a force which today has 71 seats in the Parliament and that after the 2013 elections may run the country. This coherence is based on the two main columns of its political program, which as a result of the need to preserve neo-liberalism in Greece and the Balkans, has been systematically attacked by Merkel and many other leaders of PPE.
Let’s first deconstruct two of the main critiques which right-wingers use to attack the party’s platform: the payment, or rather un-payment, of the debt, and anti-europeanism. First, the party doesn’t intend to leave the debt unpaid, but the payment has to be done in accordance to a thorough analysis of how the debt was acquired in the first place. The analysis also has to define the subjects that have benefited from the debt, and whether there has been a wide democratic consensus when acquiring the debt, or not.
As solid proof shows, in most of the cases the loans have been acquired to build public objects, which again, in most of the cases have been built by European and American companies. This means that the same money loaned to Greece, goes back into the hands of the original creditors. The loans have been acquired without wide consensus, and in some cases, secretly. Such cunning and secretive debts fall within the category of “odious debt” in European Law; they do not belong to society, but to those who have taken the criminal decision. To make the argument more tangible, let’s take the case of Albania and Macedonia. Sali Berisha has removed the deficit roof in a criminal manner. This policy had not been stated or even mentioned in the electoral promises of the Democratic Party, which means that Albanians as decision makers and payers of this debt have not applied for such a premise when voting for the ruling party. That’s why this act is only the madness of a bunch of abusive people, vested in political power. The act is abusive, which makes the debt abusive; the mechanisms used to acquire the debt put question marks on its overall payment. The same thing happens with Gruevski in Macedonia, and the same thing has been done by the Bulgarian Prime Minister also. There is no surprise that all aforementioned heads of state are right-wingers – proof of the destructive vision that is being built by this mentality throughout the Balkans.
SYRIZA supports neither anti-europeanism, nor leaving the Euro or Europe. These are speculations which are being sponsored by the “market’s invisible hand” through the public global mediums. The opposite is true; these are in fact threats of the EU, leaded by Germany, towards the Greek people. In a perverted way they are passing their threats as if they were SYRIZA’s. The lack of bureaucratic reform within the EU, under the total domination of the imperialist multinationals which de facto rule the EU, is not only Greece’s or Balkan’s problem, but Europe’s problem also. We can see this clearly enough in the economic sufferance of almost all European countries except Germany, which is witnessing a decrease of unemployment rate and increase of economic prosperity. What SYRIZA and all similar groups in Europe want, is a return to the original idea of Europe as a democratic space where everyone can develop and prosper without the colonialist hegemony of the over-developed countries. Unfortunately, nowadays Europe looks like the French army of the early 1800s: when they marched in Haiti to break the revolution of Independence, they were shocked to hear the Haitian fighters sing “La Marseillaise” before the battle.
SYRIZA reminds to the European corporatist establishment of the very idea which primarily gave birth to the EU. That’s why they don’t look forward to SYRIZA’s rise to power. For this reason, SYRIZA is a more pro-european party than those who today lead Europe.
There is also another aspect which makes of SYRIZA an “event” in the badiouian sense. This is anti-nationalism, which is being used today by the Balkan leaders to enforce their positions of leadership. The expression “nationalism is the last shelter of the malignant” finds its true meaning in the Balkans, because surprisingly the nationalists of the peninsula have no problems with the corporatist colonialism. Instead, they are ready to sell all public spaces for some quick money. While abiding to the most anti-patriotic standards and acts, we see them suddenly shed tears for the nation. Samaras talks about the definition of state borders, Berisha bluffs about passports and Preveza, and in Macedonia parties which should normally be against each other because they represent respectively Albanian and Macedonian nationalism (BDI and VMRO-DMNE), surprisingly share the government. It is obvious that all their public declarations’ purpose is to brainwash people while continuing to constantly rip off their wallets. Media shares the guilt by amplifying such behavior without analyzing it; more to it, the media evades wickedly from progressive attitudes. For example, no media in Albania has ever declared how SYRIZA activists create groups which protect emigrants from physical assaults by the Golden Dawn. Instead, declarations from the Golden Dawn and AK receive maximal attention. This sort of behavior serves to the Balkan right-wing regimes as imaginary “fresh meat” for the hungry teeth of the people, giving them the illusory message that the real source of disgrace are the attacks from Greeks and Macedonians. This is not a foreign trick to the history of the Balkan Peninsula, but it’s time to say “enough”.
The effects of SYRIZA’s success in the upcoming elections will create two important premises for the future of this space. First, it will deny to the blacklegs who currently lead the Balkans, the card of nationalism. There is no reason why the positive attitude that this party keeps towards Albanian emigrants, won’t be reflected by Albania and our state institutions. Their attitudes about the solution of the Macedonian name issue and the problems with Turkey are the first step towards a new way to do politics in the Balkans.
The second premise has to do with the renegotiation in economic terms with Europe. The arrogance of terms such as “homework”, which has mainly been associated with unfavorable austerity measures that have destroyed almost completely the domestic production and has transformed the Balkan man into an eternal consumer, needs to stop. This kind of format has increased collective depression while offering as only possible solutions crime or individual destruction. It is also important for these terms to be renegotiated, to avert uncontrollable slips towards Islamic or Christian radicalism, or nationalistic catastrophes. Fortunately there is a proportional increase of leftist parties in the Balkans. Two decades after their loss of historical path and faint wanders towards the liberal right-wing, left-wing parties have returned to a modern Keynesianism. This is a clear message for the socialist parties of Albania, Bulgaria and Macedonia: they do not offer an alternative against the rotten right-wing regimes if they do not return to the true values of the left wing, which are the development of production that brings employment, support for the underprivileged and their representation.
This is why the upcoming victory of SYRIZA is not just an internal matter of Greece. It constitutes what Hegel calls “universal particularity of politics”. Its effect overcomes the political boundaries of the state where it exists. This forces us Albanians to take a look around and make a deep analysis of the political situation home and beyond, so as not to lose the train of history towards a sustainable development which would guarantee the necessary peace and prosperity. 2013 is an important year for the whole Balkan Peninsula: it will either carry us towards radical change, or it will cast us again into the dangerous pit of interethnic conflicts.
Leart Kola studied at the Faculty of Political Science, in Tirana. He has been one of the first and most active members of Mjaft! Movement in Albania. Working as a civil society activist, and running the Department of Direct Action within Mjaft Movement, Leart is know one of the most distinguished activists in Albania. Leart has participated in several youth leadership trainings in Albania and abroad. He was one of the Team Albanian’s members dispatched in Indonesia, the country that suffered more from tsunami and earthquake in South Azia in order to support and offer his enterprise on logistics for the Team. For years, he writes in the daily press in Albania and in famous blogs such as www.saktivista.com. Leart is also the founder of the weekly newspaper GAZETA and of the Institute Antonio Gramsci.