Since I started concerning myself with politics, a question has been bothering me: why have parties of the left been so easily driven into splits and re-splits which undoubtedly weaken their ability to influence or even raise awareness in larger sectors of society?
The redefinition of the Left’s strategy employed all the “enlightened leaders” of the European left for decades, such as Togliatti’s “Memorandum di Yialta” or the proposals for the third pole strategy (also from Italy) and the third path by Enrico Berlinguer. Moreover, I am convinced that updated reviews about the failures of the Left by important researchers and intellectuals, contributed significantly to the enrichment of left thinking and the promotion of civilization, at least in Europe.
While it was very normal in the 70s to lose sleep over the theoretical pursuits of tactics and strategy, nowadays it sounds like “folklore” and we smile thinking about the time wasted in our youth. But what is the truth? Did these pursuits have a real value? Was it so important if then it resulted in so many splits? Were we deceived?
“There are reactionary agents infiltrating left parties and in a crucial moment an additional branch is created that is supposedly a more radical party,” the elders were saying. They were speaking the truth because the biggest western Communist Party was destroyed in the United States during the period of McCarthyism. We also know about US intervention in Chile before Allende’s execution. “We can’t have a communist government in Chile because a nation has gone mad and voted for Allende,” Henry Kissinger declared.
Today however, we do not dare to say such things because it is considered to be a conspiracy theory which attracts the wrath of decent leftists, usually the followers of “political correctness”.
The truth is that I don’t listen to scenarios without evidence leading somewhere. My own approach is strictly linked to my views on globalization governed by a “world order” which is so strong that, without doubt, it has influenced the Left a lot and now appears powerless in front of it. The Left always attempted to halt the scourge of “world order” suggesting ancient principles such as freedom, equality, internationalism and solidarity. I feel however that all these terms, despite their current importance (e.g. refugees in European countries), seem very outdated.
I feel a strong desire to ask for words and terms abandoned by European leftists to be reused, preventing them from being used exclusively by conservative, totalitarian parties claiming their own orthodox left origin. The leftists of thought and the real leftists in their daily lives abandoned these words very easily in the name of dialectics. I’m talking about those words, the reference of which in recent decades has been accompanied by the sarcastic smile of Europeans who think of them as “folklore” and any report of them hopelessly obsolete. The only words rescued and extensively used in forums by European think tanks after 2004 were those concerning the “redistribution of wealth”.
Although my own approach promotes an openness among leftist, centrist and rightist borders while at the same time not intending any withdrawal at an ideological level. Differences in practice, strategies and attitude were always intense among all manifestations of the political formations in Greece.
Take for example the differences that have recently led to Syriza’s split. We can easily conclude that the differences between the two parties that emerged from this split were caused by one of the following:
A) Their differences were so significant that it led to two different theoretical viewpoints. Ideologies however? Not, in my opinion. Neither of them has changed ideology. What changed is the use of strategic manoeuvring. We all of course understand that the benefits of their ideology would be greatly increased without such a cleavage.
B) Their differences were so significant that it led to an opaque ideology, dubious theoretical thinking and thus chaotic strategy and practice, in which their coexistence would jeopardize the party. So should the party be divided? My answer is again no.
C) Their differences were so significant that it inevitably led to the creation of two hostile, rival parties. The different logos signify priorities, principles, and ideas. Can these differences result in two hostile parties? Could either of the two be reactionary? In my opinion, this is impossible because (according to logic) they would never have been under the same roof before. So the answer is again no.
Chaotic ideological thought needs to be clarified otherwise it leads to misinterpretations. It shouldn’t, by necessity, create two separate, independent parts, often hostile to each other. Convergence may be the result of a dynamic confrontation between two parties that have mostly the same principles as (in my opinion) each of us is unique in thinking and ranking principles.
Thus the split has a significant impact on the specific ideology; strategic disagreements were eliminated by the split itself. But ideology is always dominant while strategy follows and that is something we should never forget.
The Left has always been more “sensitive” to ideological matters compared to other political formations. The proof of such a conclusion is not the subject of this article although it is an easy exercise to undertake and partly explains some minor splits.
However, let us be honest, the principles of the Left, while proposed in different periods of European history, have not worked and have never been applied anywhere. Ultimately, this is the main question.
Do not forget either that whatever the cause was, the absence of such principles led to the achievements of the past and of this century, meaning two world wars, many local wars and a global financial crisis that has the characteristics of world war as there are many dead (suicides, starvation, refugees), a loss of national sovereignty and an emergence of new classes in our societies as a result of simultaneous impoverishment of large masses of European citizens.
A free and dynamic society in solidarity with others can exist in which parity, equity and internationalism dominate. I don’t think we need a third or fourth world war in order to reach a common understanding on this. However, this means that the time for ideologies has arrived. If not now, I’m afraid there will never be another chance.
Instead of strategic splits we should finally agree that only ideologies unite. I would also say that when we are talking about ideologies we should not get lost in complex conceptions but simply focus on these ancient principles that I already mentioned which have not been implemented so far.
Instead of entangling strategy with ideology and split into various European branches, shouldn’t we deal with new coalitions governed by ideologies?
Wouldn’t the implementation of these ancient principles of coexistence and co-development lead to a clearer split between different ideologies which would bring into focus who our real opponents are?
Shouldn’t we recover from the “Truman show” and finally see that the “new world order” is creating a new empire and will force us into painful, outdated, centralized systems if we do not resist?
Reprinted from Pressenza.