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Posts tagged ‘Left politics’

Young leftist Greek leader called the most dangerous man in Europe

A rising political star is Alexis Tsipras (born in 1974), the young leader of the SYRIZA coalition of small leftist groups. Referred to as the most dangerous man in Europe, he wants to cancel the €240 billion bailout agreement with the Troika and stop cuts to social programs. He stated in 2012, “The rotten and reliant establishment is making its last stand. Their dominance is ending after they looted the country and saddled it with debt.”[i] He explains, “Our political plan is to effect alternative policies that will efficiently address the crisis and kickstart the economy by supporting the weak, creating new employment and supporting basic incomes. Greece’s reconstruction will come from a fresh developmental plan, one that is aimed at income redistribution, decent jobs and the enhancement of public goods.”[ii]

As a high school student (age 16) he led student protests against education reforms, appearing on TV as a spokesman and he has a photo of Che Guevara on his office wall. He was a member of Communist Youth where he met his partner and mother of his sons. Unlike many other Greek politicians he isn’t a member of an elite family and is rarely seen wearing a tie. He campaigned to be head of the European Commission in 2014, causing some leftist philosophers who opposed participating in meaningless elections to support Tsipra. Philosophers Antonio Negri and Sandro Mezzadra explained essential issues can “only be addressed at a European level. Outside of this sphere there is no such thing as political realism.”[iii] While French philosopher Alain Badiou advocated “subtraction” from the state and denigrated the uprisings in Egypt and Greece as “communist invariants,” Negri believes It’s possible to create a “new political grammar” working with European organizations.

[ii] Lynn Stuart Parramore, “Exclusive Interview: Meet Alexis Tsipras,” AlterNet, February 12, 2013.


[iii] Srecko Horvat, “President Alexis Tsipras: Is that a Joke?” The Guardian, January 21, 2014.


Left Social Justice Movement in the US, Report

Social justice leaders N’Tanya Lee and Steve Williams wondered, “Where is the outrage?” about recession austerity measures led by “neoliberalism’s elites,” high unemployment, ecological disasters, and racism. They got their answer in the global uprisings of 2011. To update activism in the US after the 2011 Occupy mobilizations and look into the future, Lee and Williams started the Ear to the Ground project. They interviewed 158 social justice leaders and were surprised to find a high degree of consensus. Most (65%) said they were anti-capitalist, but many lacked a descriptive political label and a systematic strategy for a better world. The authors bemoan the absence of a strong Left and advocate building “a new kind of Left for our times, rooted in feminist social relations and “on-the-ground social movements.”

Two-thirds of the interviewees were people of color and slightly more men than women, with one-third of the interviewees from the San Francisco Bay Area. Despite their efforts, they didn’t include young people under age 20. The interviewers found fragmentation and a lack of a unified front, recognizing the need for what Naomi Klein called a “movement of the movements.” They believe the time is now with multiple crises generating a “tipping point” for change.  The authors propose a one-source movement media center and a new Left political party, “united for socialism.” They suggest reexamining the culture of the social justice movement to eliminate competition for funding, judmentalness, ego, crankiness, obsession with process and ideological purity, racism and sexism, overwork, lack of leadership training for youth, and expressing more anger than hope. Not one activist said the movement’s overall culture sustained them. They were united in believing the uprisings of 2011—the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall St., were the most exciting political events they’d ever experienced. They believed that Occupy shifted Tea Party power to the left and helped elect President Obama. They also pointed to protests against the governor of Wisconsin’s attack on public sector unions, Florida demonstrations against the vigilante against murder of black teen Trayvon Martin, and student immigrant “Dreamer” protests as signs of continuing grassroots action.

N’Tanya Lee and Steve Williams, “More Than We Imagined,” Ear to the Ground, May 2013. http://eartothegroundproject.org/report


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