I don't know how many of you have seen the excellent Costa Gavras film, "Z". It is a French adaptation of real life events in Greece, where progressive peacenik Grigoris Lambrakis was killed by fascist goons in the service of the right wing military supported political leadership; and investigations into which were led by a daring and honest investigator only for convictions to be overturned and the military dictatorship to be instated in the country in 1967. The film's message is that "he" (Lambakris' fictional version referred to as Z) is alive - in the movements for justice and dissent against the right wing regime.
Gavras would have been glad to see the current verdict of the recently concluded general elections in Greece, where forces from the Left represented by the SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left), the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the ANTARSYA (Front of the Greek anti-capitalist Left) managed a cumulative vote percentage of 27% outstripping the rightists (led by the New Democracy party and represented by other fringe extreme rightists) and the centrists in the long ruling Socialist Party (PASOK) in popular support. Z is finally alive, he would think, and not just on film, but in real life in Greece.
The verdict for the Left was because of the popular anger against the austerity measures put in place by the preceding Greek governments and supported by the PASOK and ND - measures that were instituted to apparently tide over the Sovereign Debt Crisis in the country. The crisis in itself was a creation not of the doings of the working people and who were to be most affected because of the austerity measures, but of the rapacity of finance capital which led to the Global Financial Crisis.
The allies of Finance Capital in Greece, the dominant political parties - against massive public opinion - once again kowtowed to a series EU and IMF imposed loan agreements that imposed unprecedented burdens on the Greek people. Financial Crisis inevitably brought about Political Crisis as thousands of Greek people took to the streets in waves of protests over the past two years, as Greece tottered on the brink of a socio-economic crisis with poverty and unemployment increasing rapidly. It is in this context that the Coalition of the Radical Left - the SYRIZA and the KKE managed to win the support of the people beyond what they had managed ever before.
The success of the SYRIZA in particular was outstanding. The SYRIZA managed a swing of 12.2% vote in its favour to win 16.9% of the total vote, while the KKE also managed a rise in vote share by one percentage point to 8.5%.
The SYRIZA has consistently opposed the austerity agreements and has called unequivocally for reneging on the conditionalities imposed by the EU. It is no wonder that it got its best support in the major cities of Greece in Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras. Whoever said that the ideas of the Left were passé have to eat their words now. The SYRIZA and KKE have cumulatively brought back the Left in vogue in Greece and therefore in Europe.
Unfortunately, from the statements we see, KKE has so far refused to respond to SYRIZA and its young President Alexis Tsipras' call for a united Left Front post the elections. The details seem murky for long distance watchers. But KKE’s characterisation of SYRIZA as a set of "new social democrats" supplanting the PASOK seems to defy the fact that SYRIZA is clearly opposed to PASOK's support for the austerity programmes and its supplicant attitude toward finance capital. SYRIZA resembles the 21st century version of the Left - the "New Left" - a coalition of the radical Left, social movements, ecological Left and sections drawn from communist youth.
The KKE suggests that not just a reversal of the austerity measures is in order, but there must be a restoration of the privileges of the working people and the hegemony of the popular government in deciding matters instead of the mandarins in service of global finance. From the proclamations of the SYRIZA, there is not much difference with the KKE on this accord, except that the former prefers Greece to stay within the European Union without being in the Eurozone (common currency). And a closer look at the platforms suggest that programmatically, there is not much difference in the immediate between the two leftist organisations, although there is a more pronounced pro-ecological and radical-democratic content to the SYRIZA than in the KKE.
The KKE should perhaps loosen up its dogmatic position and accept the peoples' verdict and stand in unison with SYRIZA against Greece's "primary contradiction" - the rampaging finance capital that is determining its macroeconomic policies through remote control. Perhaps the KKE is better off in understanding that the 20th century notion of building a proletarian state through “only” the vanguard of the self-proclaimed representative of the working class, the communist party, is that much - a 20th century idea that needs refinement. Perhaps the KKE should look at the examples in Germany and France provided by the Die Linke and the Left Front (Jean Luc Melenchon performed creditably in the recently held French presidential elections). And perhaps so should the communist parties in the rest of the world in getting inspired by what the Latin American Leftists are doing in their way of praxis: creatively combining Marxism with the ideas of Antonio Gramsci and the Peruvian revolutionary, Jose Carlos Mariategui.