“Syriza’s victory can mean a lot of things in Romania: from the modest gain which could consist in shifting the local public discourse even slightly to the left, to the more material gain, in which the local left (so far comprising only a small avant-garde of intellectuals and activists) could, by means of imitation and contagion, finally build around itself its necessary social and institutional basis.”
Alex Cistelecan is editor for CriticAtac.ro and lecturer at the ‘Petru Maior’ University, Tg. Mures.
1. What would it take for you to consider Syriza a success?
I would say that success for Syriza means holding on as much as possible to their proposed platform, no matter what the outcome of the negotiations with the Troika will be. But this commitment to their own proposals will, of course, mean very different things depending on the outcome of the negotiations. Thus, there would be a relatively quick and ‘reasonable’ success for Syriza if their proposals would be – for the most part – accepted by their creditors and the European institutions; or, in case of failure of the discussions, the very possibility of realizing their program – and thus succeeding – would require them to raise the stakes, radicalize their demands and, thus, perhaps come closer to the position of KKE. Those who make moderate social-democracy impossible in Europe, make full-scale socialism necessary in Greece. (Which, again, in order to be possible will require a different, genuine internationalism – since we all know the aporias of ‘socialism in one country’).
2. And what would make you consider it a failure?
It would be a failure if the opposite of all these should happen: either if they give in to the demands of the European institutions, and thus scrap the major part of their program. Or, in case the negotiations break down, Syriza’s failure would consist in being unable or unwilling to move towards a much more radical stance – which would imply not only exiting the EU, but adopting a properly socialist program (large scale nationalizations and so on).
3. What do you think will actually happen?
I honestly have no idea. So far, Syriza’s determination has been outstanding and refreshingly surprising (given the traditional path taken by left-leaning parties once in power). But on the other hand, EU’s rigidity in demanding full-scale austerity and compliance with the designed neoliberal reforms has been no less excessive, even though much less surprising.
4. What does the victory of Syriza mean for the left in the Romania?
It can mean a lot of things: from the modest gain which would consist in even slightly shifting the local public discourse towards the left (so far, no sign of this; quite on the contrary, the neoliberal discourse has only become more hysterical, also thanks to the growing ‘Russian menace’); to the more material gain, in which the local left (so far comprising only a small avant-garde of intellectuals and activists) could, by means of imitation and contagion, finally build around itself its necessary social and institutional basis (social constituency, grassroots mobilization & political party).
5. How do you imagine your organization cooperating with Syriza?
Since the organization I belong to is an internet platform, our support for Syriza can only consist – as it already does – in trying to lobby for them in the local and regional public space as much as we can, by means of articles and comments on the urgency and legitimacy of their struggle. Compared to their battle, this mere intellectual/discursive support is of course rather slim. But considering the undisputed neoliberal and neoconservative hegemony in Romania (and Eastern Europe in general), it can seem quite outlandish.