Statement by KOE:
The two messages of the Italian elections
First Greece, now Italy. Although the political scene in Italy has not changed in a way as radical as in Greece (where the two-party political system has suffered a heavy blow and PASOK disintegrates) the message is again crystal clear: the Italian people are opposing the policies that Germany is trying to impose on the European South.
The political parties in favor of these politics have been punished: this is equally true for Bersani’s centre-left, who never won the easy battle they expected, as for the “Merkelist” Mondi, who foundered. On the contrary, those against or appearing to be against these politics are winning: Bepe Grillo’s political influence has skyrocketed while Berlusconi, disguised as “anti-Merkelist”, resuscitates. At the same time the Left, attempting a "unifying" but colorless and odorless participation and avoiding to take a stand on the main issue of the electoral debate, simply disappears…
There is also a second message, regardless the blurring and the confusion provoked by the resuscitation of Berlusconi, the Italian High Priest of the business’ and politicians’ intertwined corruption. This second message targets the whole political system and the lack of democracy and of respect for the popular will. This message has been expressed mainly through Grillo’s “unexpected” percentage. The same message, in several variations, has been sent by the people to those in power in Greece, Spain, Slovenia, Bulgaria…
The social potential in the European “Red Corridor”
The outcome of the Italian elections simply confirms the huge and explosive social potential that has been gathering in Europe’s “Red Corridor”, i.e. the European South and Eastern Europe, which are the regions mostly coerced by EU’s policies. This is a potential which cannot be defined as partisan of this or the other political force, neither in terms of traditional party politics, nor in terms of the traditional Left-Right specter. It should be noted, though, that where the possibility exists, this politically undefined movement clearly shifts to the Left: it happened in Greece, in Catalonia, in the Basque Country, in Galicia – while at the same time it would not be exaggerated to consider that, in the Italian political specter, Grillo is positioned to the left of Bersani.
This social potential is composed by popular strata who, under the right conditions (which can relatively easily be fulfilled), break away from what can be termed as the control matrix of the traditional political system, and invade the political scene. Thus, these popular masses modify in the most radical way the political correlation of power and give birth to new, “uncontrollable” formations. It is this popular and social potential that fuelled the Squares’ movements and a series of persistent and continuous mobilizations in Greece and other countries.
In terms of politics, policies and movements’ processes, today’s Europe, and especially its “Red Corridor”, is nothing like the pre-crisis Europe:
a) In Greece as well as in Italy the people have invaded the political scene and thus directly influence the evolution of the situation.
b) This is not yet the case for the Spanish State, at least as far as the central political scene is concerned. Nevertheless, there has been a significant rise of the Left (especially the Patriotic Left) in Catalonia, Basque Country and Galicia.
c) Moreover, both in Spain and in Portugal, we witness massive and lasting mobilizations.
d) This is equally true for Slovenia and Bulgaria where the neo-liberal governments are trembling and have even been forced to resign. Romania also “joined the club” last year; there the catalyst has been the attack upon the national health system.
e) Even Iceland, which for a while flirted with the danger of forcefully “joining” the fate of European South, chose a different path, helped by the fact that it is not an EU member state; and did so under the pressure of the massive popular mobilization.
Rapid changes and common tendencies
So what we witness today is the creation of a complex and complicated, dynamic and ever changing, controversial political environment. This cannot be oversimplified and it certainly cannot be interpreted in a mono-dimensional way. However, one can pinpoint the common characteristics, the common tendencies and trends. One thing is certain: the social potential and the popular strata today fight for the right to survive and live; they even defy the political status quo as a whole. And, doing so, they look out for any existing possibility and crack in the system that will allow them to invade the political life and impose radical changes. In this light some major issues emerge:
a) Unanimous and generalized condemnation of the failed and destructive neoliberal, inhumane policies of Brussels and Berlin.
b) Broad and sustained popular mobilizations, able to overthrow governments and/or to cause political instability and crisis.
c) Generalized depreciation of the established party and political systems, and demand for democracy, real democracy, direct democracy – as well for the development of movements functioning more democratically than the traditional ones.
d) Emergence of national dignity as a central issue, even in countries such as Italy.
e) Requirement to respect the needs of the countries and of their peoples, against supranational regulations and impositions; emergence of patriotism in more peripheral countries.
f) Seeking a political solution that, when given the opportunity, takes the form of a great reinforcement of the Left – but, in cases the Left is absent or unable to express the popular aspirations, the social potential expresses itself in various and controversial ways.
Weaknesses of the Left
In this frame the insufficiency of a big part of the Europe’s Left, whether within the European Left Party or not, raises many concerns. SYRIZA is one of the exceptions, but these are not enough to alter the generally worrying image. One cannot ignore the obvious discrepancy between the social potential and the tasks it sets, on one hand, and the political reasoning, rhetoric and action of a big part of Europe’s Left, on the other. It’s not only that in most cases this Left cannot offer a way out for this social potential, nor intervene in the main debate that takes place in the society. The situation seems worse: In some cases the Left appears to have difficulty even grasping what takes place in front of its very eyes; in other cases, it “reads” the social dynamics through the distorting lenses of outdated ideological and political conceptions. Sometimes the Left resorts even to political snobbism, refusing to take advantage of the new possibilities.
This part of the Left is not comfortable with accusing the political establishment as corrupt and cleptocratic, because “this does not seem anti-capitalist enough”. Then, it dislikes the idea of supporting the national dignity, because “this concept is rather chauvinistic”. In the same line of thinking, the skyrocketing of the Patriotic Left in Catalunya or in the Basque Country is seen as “a negative development”. Furthermore, this Left is not enthusiastic about the Squares’ movements, because “they are not clearly orientated to the Left”. It feels uncomfortable with the anathema against the European Union and the European Commission’s policies, because “it slides to the denial of the positive role of the European integration’s process” (this almost religious faith is never put into question, as if nothing has changed the last years…). Finally, this Left is at odds with cases like Grillo’s – not because of the really negative aspects of such cases, but because of the very aspects that should be adopted by a Left without blinkers. At the same time though, this troubled Left (and especially its most rightist current) has not been equally shocked and indignant whenever certain of its components have served neoliberalism through the participation in governments led by socialdemocrats or (even worse) by “technocrats”.
The oppressed Europe has spoken, again
There is a strong need for a political subject able and willing to express the explosive social potential, and this need concerns the whole of Europe. This is nowhere else more true than in the countries of the European “Red Corridor”, where the social and political matrix is more than conducive to the coordination of the popular forces and resistances, towards the building of cooperation in rupture with the German suzerainty. These are the requirements that set the mission of the Left and of the forces working for the popular emancipation in Greece, in the Mediterranean and in Europe.
Athens, March 1, 2013
Communist Organization of Greece / KOE