If the complex situation in which an already self-contradictory Syriza managed to hem itself, together with all the impositions of the Eurozone, were to be distilled into a simple ideological message it would be, as Richard Seymour captured it: ‘this is what you get for giving the creditors lip’. One can palpably touch the thick air of jouissance emanating from the direction of Schäuble et al, one can sense the simmering message ‘don’t fuck with us’. This is Mafia-style stagecraft, the attempt to so completely undermine, humiliate, ridicule and dehumanise the opponent so as to i) serve as an exemplary judgement to dissuade future potential opposition and ii) portray the victim as so inherently impotent that a cruel and cynical ‘irony of fate’ has finally cast them as their exact opposites, worse than the Eurozone itself. You can come with all your left-wing delusions, but be aware how far you will fall when we expose you as just another group of charlatans gasping for power.
I’m not saying that this denouement (and it is clearly the final act in the play) was inevitable.
The left-wing elements of Syriza, bolstered by the rising voice of Greek people, could have hegemonised the party and enforced democracy on it from below; public support for Syriza for a time came to resemble a social movement, but a fractured Syriza squandered the opportunity to connect with this power and bring it into the heart of its negotiations. Instead, led by erratic policies generated from its political inconsistency, it opted for its own version of technocracy; it tried to beat the Eurozone at its own game, and so of course neglected its radical grounding. It failed to follow through on its desire (the desire that had elicited so much public support for its proposals at election time) and because it gave ground it withered away, leaving only its worst elements. Not the vehicle that would take the voice of the people directly into the political battle, but a self-conscious mechanism — an ideological apparatus in fact — which proudly felt it could ‘do business’ on behalf of the Greek people. Ultimately, it failed to let go of itself and allow radical desire to transform it from below, preferring to attempt to stage-manage itself from above. It’s a structural failure not un-typical of the left, but at least here one can lie and claim that this structure was totally imposed by the context.
At the same time, the fact that Syriza managed to get itself elected, and on an anti-austerity ticket at that, remains an irreducibly historical and concrete point. Potentialities, vectors of counterforce, are still encoded in that point. Syriza may not now access them, having suffered the utter humiliation it has. A movement, on the other hand, could. It would have to straddle, in a consistent — perhaps even dogmatic — fashion, the breach between social movement and political party, and by so doing demonstrate and reconfigure European politics. It would have to be prepared to acknowledge itself as conduit only, as channel for forces from below that would eventually supersede it. It would have to give itself completely to desire.
More useless impressionism. Maybe that’s the extent of what I can do today.