“It is very hard for many people to imagine a left alternative to social democracy. As one friend told me recently: maybe it is time to found “Our Syriza”. It was a joke but it reflects the impact on the political imagination of many activists.”
Jan Májíček is a member of Socilistická Solidarita in the Czech Republic. He is a PhD student at the Department of Political Science, Charles University in Prague. He is an activist and a journalist.
1. What would it take for you to consider Syriza a success?
I think Syriza is and will continue to face serious pressures from both domestic and European forces to reduce its anti-austerity program. If it succeeds to make its program real i.e. stop all austerity, raise minimum wage, fight against corruption; it will be a great success and a boost for any anti-austerity policy of the left in Europe. This is especially important for Spain, but other countries as well.
2. And what would make you consider it a failure?
Failure of Syriza would be the opposite of what they symbolize – the hope. That would happen if they did not deliver the promised reforms and accommodated to the international pressure. What is more, this would help Golden Dawn become an alternative. It would be disastrous both for the international Left and for the Greek people. Of course, there are some signs that Syriza and its leadership is open to compromises. Especially the formation of the government with the Independent Greeks was “cold shower” for many on the left. But I think it is more in the domain of symbolic damage than a real threat. However, it is very important that there are other anti-capitalist left political formations both inside Syriza and outside (Antarsya) that will play an important role in organizing movements on the streets not only to support Syriza against forces of the Troika but to also create alternatives to the system.
3. What do you think will actually happen?
We can expect a very dynamic process. The year 2015 will be the year starting with one blow to austerity (Syriza) and ending with another (hopefully Podemos). We will definitively see enormous pressure to the Syriza government and it will be partly up to us, the international left to help ease this pressure by organizing our actions and our offensive against austerity.
4. What does the victory of Syriza mean for the left in the Czech Republic?
It means two things. First, it is the materialization of an anti-austerity program. I have some reservations for Syriza’s aim to stay in the euro-zone but nevertheless in a Czech context Syriza’s victory is something. Secondly, it shows how mainstream social democracy can be marginalized. PASOK is an example of how European social democracy will end if it maintains its pro-austerity and neoliberal policy.
It was very hard for many people to imagine a left alternative to social democracy. As one friend told me recently: maybe it is time to found “Our Syriza”. It was a joke but it reflects the impact on political imagination of many activists.
5. How do you imagine your organization cooperating with Syriza?
To be honest, I think there is huge difference between us and Syriza, especially in the size of the organization. What we can and will do is try to promote and stimulate the discussion on Greece, Syriza, austerity etc. This is very important for our context and for development of a serious left alternative.