What to read about Greece and SYRIZA

January 26, 2015

A brief reading list of articles from SW and beyond to learn more about Greece.

WHERE SHOULD SocialistWorker.org readers go to learn more about the struggle in Greece and prospects for the future after SYRIZA's historic election victory?

SW has published numerous writings and views from Greek socialists--including, most recently, interviews with two members of the Internationalist Workers Left (DEA) who are on Central Committee members of SYRIZA: Antonis Davanellos ("We ask for solidarity") and Sotiris Martalis ("This election can turn the tide"). Last week, we also featured an article by Lee Sustar to help U.S. and other international leftists understand the conditions in Greece and the context for the rise of SYRIZA. These articles are a good starting point for anyone wanting to learn about the left challenge in Greece.

Stathis Kouvelakis is another SYRIZA Central Committee member and supporter of the Left Platform within the party. Last week, Sebastian Budgen published an exhaustive question-and-answer session with Kouvelakis at Jacobin. It's the length of a short book, but captures not only the scale of the social and political crisis in Greece, but the reasons why SYRIZA emerged from the far left to come to the verge of power and the ongoing debates in the party as it came closer and closer to yesterday's elections.

Alexis Tsipras speaks at the SYRIZA national conference
Alexis Tsipras speaks at the SYRIZA national conference

Kouvelakis also wrote a commentary published at the Verso Books website, and he was interviewed by Tariq Ali for his television show on Telesur.

Left-wing economist Costas Lapavitsas is likely to be a new member of parliament from the SYRIZA list. His articles on the Greek economic crisis in the Guardian have been essential reading--on Monday, Verso Books will publish an e-book, co-authored by Lapavitsas and Heiner Flassbeck, called Against the Troika: Crisis and Austerity in the Eurozone, which puts forward left policy proposals on the question of Greece's massive foreign debt.

Last September, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, likely the next prime minister, gave a speech at the annual Thessaloniki International Trade Fair where he presented a "reconstruction plan" that he said would be the first steps taken by a left government led by SYRIZA. Throughout the campaign, SYRIZA members referenced this plan as the party's initial program if they won the January 25 elections.

A lot of the left commentary on Greece and SYRIZA focuses, naturally, on the party leadership and Tsipras, speculating on where they may compromise. But to get a better idea of how Tsipras presents himself to Greece and the world, read this interview, republished at Jacobin, conducted a few months ago by Haris Golemis for the inaugural issue of the journal Transform!

British socialist Kevin Ovenden is one of the most knowledgeable and observant of the left-wing journalists reporting from Athens during the election campaign and after. His "Dispatches from Athens" published at the Left Flank website--as well as an Election Day live blog--give a valuable sense of what it's like in Greece for English-speaking readers who wish they were there, too.

French speakers should visit the A l'encontre website edited by veteran socialist Charles André-Udry for more material from leading members of SYRIZA and European leftists.

THESE ARE just some of the useful articles and commentaries on Greece written in the past days and weeks. But we'd also like to point out some of the ongoing coverage of Greece at SocialistWorker.org that documented the consequences of the economic and social crisis as it happened, provided a firsthand account of the massive working-class and social struggles that erupted in response, and finally charted the emergence of SYRIZA.

Antonis Davanellos, one of the best-known figures of SYRIZA's Left Platform, has contributed regular articles and interviews to SW. His articles "European capitalism's weakest link?" and "Greece in the eye of the storm" detailed the catastrophic austerity measures demanded by the so-called Troika (the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund) in return for a financial bailout--and the eruption of mass working-class struggle on a scale not seen in Europe in generations.

This struggle included not just the 30-plus general strikes since the onset of the crisis, but a mass popular movement that occupied public squares across Greece--DEA member and journalist Panos Petrou described this upsurge in "The struggle of the squares." Later, Charles-André Udry documented the scale of the crisis in"Greece's social fabric unravels."

DEA was one of the organizations that co-founded SYRIZA in 2004. When it emerged from the electoral margins to come within a few percentage points of winning two national elections in 2012, Antonis Davanellos explained the stunning results in "A new stage of the resistance" and "From crisis to resistance in Greece."

Also part of the radical left project from the start, Panos Petrou provided an in-depth analysis of the origins of SYRIZA in "The making of SYRIZA." After its narrow second-place finishes in 2012, SYRIZA formed itself into a party over the coming year, with differences between the party's mainstream and left-wing minority crystallizing--Petrou documented these in "Where is SYRIZA headed?" and "The battle for SYRIZA goes on."

Sotiris Martalis explained "The role of the left in SYRIZA," and DEA's newspaper looked to the national elections to come in "The road ahead after SYRIZA's victory," written after the party came in first in elections last spring for European parliament.

Further Reading

From the archives