The Future of Popular Unity in Greece (2/2)
Stathis Kouvelakis, member of Popular Unity says the future of Popular Unity will depend on the Greek peoples reaction to the economic tsunami unleashed as a result of Syriza’s surrender to the creditors
SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome back to the Real News Network. I’m speaking with Stathis Kouvelakis. He’s a member of Popular Unity in Greece, and before that he served on the Central Committee of Syriza until the party split in August. He’s also a reader in political theory at King’s College, London. Good to have you back, Stathis.
STATHIS KOUVELAKIS: Good evening, Sharmini.
PERIES: So Stathis, before we broke in the first segment we were talking about now this current situation in Greece. The Popular Unity being more or less absent in terms of national discourse. Not only in terms of the Left Platform, former Left Platform being absent, but in terms of making a bigger contribution in terms of the national discourse and debate that’s going on in the country vis-a-vis the debt crisis as well as the discussion around developing a new economy in Greece. So what does this mean for the future of the Popular Unity movement in Greece?
KOUVELAKIS: The future of Popular Unity largely depends on how society will react to the tsunami that is coming now with the new austerity package that will be implemented in the forthcoming days and weeks. Because the reality of the situation is that Tsipras and his government had it easy so far, so to say. Because they have signed up the memorandum, they have committed themselves to this awful set of austerity measures. They have totally surrendered the sovereignty of the country to the lenders. But so far very little, almost nothing of all those measures has been concretely implemented. Actually, this also explains why there were these illusions in broader society about the possibility of Syriza for softening up the angles of this new austerity package.
But the point is that the government has committed itself to the lenders to adopt about 50 austerity measures in October, just in October. About 70 in November. And in total nearly 200 before the end of the year. So it will be–this will create a proper shock in society. And it has to be said that due to the support given to the government by the media, large sectors of Greek society haven’t yet fully realized what is coming. But they will realize that very soon. And we’ll see how they react. And supposedly, although there is nothing automatic in these cases. I’m not suggesting that everyone will somehow listen to what Popular Unity says. Society is traumatized. The weight of the defeat is very significant. But still, the climate, the atmosphere in the country will change quite dramatically in the next few weeks and months. And this will mean that what happens outside of parliament, because very little will happen in parliament, nearly all the parties, 80 percent of the MPs will vote on these awful measures.
But what will happen outside the parliament will become extremely important. And this will be the terrain for intervention for Popular Unity, and of course for social movements and for campaigns and for popular mobilizations.
PERIES: Stathis, the election results of September 20, is that an indication that most of the Greek population is still apprehensive about leaving the eurozone?
KOUVELAKIS: Up to a certain point, yes. You know, years of propaganda about exiting the euro being an absolute disaster, the apocalypse, the end of the world, have produced an effect. And they have produced that effect because Syriza gradually but steadily reproduced that discourse and fully adopted it once it had signed the memorandum. So you know, no one has explained, not a single political force in Greece has explained to the people that leaving the euro is not the end of the world, that it is a sustainable option, that it has also positive aspects in it and it opens up new possibilities.
Of course, it also creates some problems. But these problems can be resolved with the proper preparation and by dealing with them in a certain political direction. So a lot, certainly, needs to be done in order for that fear to be overcome in Greece.
PERIES: And Stathis, finally, what’s next for Popular Unity?
KOUVELAKIS: I think what is next for Popular Unity is to connect with the forms social resistance will take in the next period. Actually, a new political and social cycle has now started, actually. Of course, it has started in a very tough way. The weight of the defeat is there. However, we have lost a battle but the war goes on. And the war goes on means that the Greek people have already shown in the recent past that they are very resilient. I’m confident that they will also be inventive in showing that against, again in the future.
And no one has doubts that Popular Unity, because of its militant forces and the potential it represents, will play a very important role in that new cycle of resistance and of struggle.
PERIES: And actually I’m not going to be allowed to leave you without asking this question. What has come of the very popular former parliamentarians that joined Popular Unity such as Costas Lapavitsas, Zoe Konstantopoulou, and Lafazanis? And where are they now?
KOUVELAKIS: Look, most of these people had jobs apart from politics. Very few were actually full-timers of a party or of an organization. So Costas Lapavitsas has resumed his teaching in London. Zoe Konstantopoulou has resumed her activities as a lawyer in Athens. Other people have also, you know, went back to their, to their former job or way of, of being active. So you know, we are–of course, some other comrades have to face more difficulties.
But no one of us, I think, understands political activism as a career as an end, per se. and this is why we are aware that sometimes there is a cost to pay for a certain type of decisions. But you know, this is perfectly normal, I think, for people like us who are active in politics because we want to change society.
PERIES: Stathis, there’s a large following of Real News viewers in terms of what’s happening in Greece, so we hope to have you back very soon.
KOUVELAKIS: Thank you, Sharmini.
PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
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