SYRIZA

What sort of party do we need?

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In our ongoing series of debates on the role of Leninism today, Alex Callinicos replies to Ian Birchall's contribution in last month's Review. He returns to the fundamentals of Leninist organisation and presents a different account of the political arguments of the 1980s

There has been a shift in the focus of anti-capitalist debate. A decade ago, in the immediate wake of Seattle, Genoa, and Florence, in a climate of popular revolt against capitalism and war, a major question was: party or movement? In other words, were various forms of localised organisation sufficient for what Michael Hardt and Toni Negri call the "multitude" of those oppressed by capital to break the power of the ruling class?

Why it's time to realign the left

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Radical left parties such as Syriza in Greece and the Front De Gauche in France have made significant gains recently. But what about Britain? Socialist film maker Ken Loach has recent issued a call for a new left party to be formed here too. Ed Rooksby, one of the supporters of the call, explains why he thinks the time is right to launch such a party and what its aims should be. Socialist Review will respond in our next issue.

Radical left parties committed to fighting austerity and able to attract considerable popular support have emerged across Europe - most spectacularly in Greece. We are in desperate need of a similar party in Britain - one which is willing to take the risk of seeking to break the stranglehold of a social democracy that has long since capitulated to neoliberalism and present an unashamedly socialist alternative. Thankfully, for the first time in a long period, the conditions for the emergence of a broad left coalition of forces in the UK capable of attracting large-scale support seem ripe.

Greece: the battle lines sharpen

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Last month's general strike in Greece was an impressive response to attempts by the government to crack down on strikes and protests against austerity. Nikos Loudos, a Greek revolutionary socialist, spoke to Despina Karayianni and Mark L Thomas about the developing movement


Last month's general strike seems to have been a big success. It comes against a background where the government has been taking a harder line, attacking strikes and occupations and becoming more vicious. Could you say something about the position of the government?

The government is trying to present itself as a lion, but in reality it's a mouse.

Greece at a crossroads

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Socialist Review spoke to Giorgos Pittas, a journalist from the Greek socialist newspaper Workers' Solidarity, about the political situation in Greece following elections in May that saw a dramatic fall in support for parties backing austerity.

What was behind the collapse in support for Pasok and New Democracy, parties that have dominated Greek politics since the fall of the military junta in the mid-1970s, at the election in early May?

First is the scale of suffering. The rate of unemployment is now over 21 percent - it has doubled over the last two years. For young people unemployment is at 50 percent. There used to be hardly any homeless people in Athens, but this winter there were 25,000 living in the streets.

A new phase in the crisis

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The crisis in Europe has entered a new phase. 2008 saw the onset of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. In 2010, and especially from 2011, there was a marked upswing in resistance, with a series of mass strikes in Greece, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium and Britain, and the rise of the indignados in Portugal, Spain and Greece last spring and then the Occupy movement in the autumn.

Now the mood of bitterness and revolt against austerity has received a powerful electoral expression which will have major ideological, political and economic reverberations across the continent.

Greek expectations for the left

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It is not very often that governments decide to commit political suicide, but that is exactly what the ruling conservative party of New Democracy did when they called a snap election in Greece last month only to lose by a margin of 10 percent.

New Democracy was plunged into a massive crisis. Nineteen of their 23 original cabinet members were wiped out. Kostas Karamanlis, the leader and former prime minister, is retiring and the four contenders for his succession cannot agree on the way a new leader will be chosen.

Karamanlis called the election because, in his own words, the economy needed a package of "tough and unpopular measures" but the political climate did not permit it. What he meant by "political climate" was the fear of a new uprising like the one that shook Greece last December.

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