Between Radical Left and Far Right: the pendulum of contestation in the West

By Dimitris Konstantakopoulos

Second of two articles. You can read the first at

The 2010s were initially sealed by a high demand of radical leftist alternatives. We had World Social Forums, Occupy Wall Street in the USA, “Indignant”, SYRIZA and Podemos in Greece and Spain, Corbyn in Britain, Melenchon in France, the rise of Linke in Germany, Sanders in the USA, the almost revolutionary mobilisation of the Yellow Vests in France. The two central demands of the Yellow Vests were the democratic control of the political power (by referenda and the possibillity of revoking elected officials) and the protection of the living standards of the poorest strata of society.

But, all these efforts were defeated for various reasons we cannot analyse in detail in the context of this article. We limit ourselves to point out that one of the main reasons behind the failures was the unwillingness of those forces to go to a rupture with the dominant forces of Western capitalism when the situation asked for such a rupture. Another one was the distance the “radical leftist” organisations took gradually from the aspirations of the more plebeian, popular strata of Western societies, their adaptation to the mentality of petty bourgeois strata which tend to dominate more and more, if not monopolize, the cadres running leftist organisations.

The “battle of Greece” and its significance

The most significant and the most humiliating defeat of all was Syriza’s capitulation in Greece, given the central role of the Greek crisis in the evolution of the whole of Europe and of the huge interest in the world for the experiment of a force claiming to be radical leftist coming to the power of a EU and NATO country. Syriza came to power because its leaders had promised to struggle against the neocolonial regime the Troika of the Creditors imposed on Greece. But they did nothing to prepare themselves and the Greek people for such a struggle. Instead, they turned to the USA and Israel, hoping those two forces would help them acquire a “presentable” compromise with the creditors. They got in return an enormous humiliation for which the vice-President of their government, Yannis Dragasakis, went as far as to thank in public the US administration!

By supporting the capitulation of Syriza, the main forces of the European “radical left”, Linke in Germany, Podemos in Spain and the PCF in France proved to their supporters and potential supporters that they were no much better than the usual European Social Democracy, thus undermining their own raison d’ etre.

Many cadres of the so called “radical left” in the West were enthusiastic about the rapid rise of Syriza in Greece. They did not understand that the rise was the reflection of the depth of the crisis. In a country were people were throwing themselves from the roofs of their homes, preferring to die than to suffer the consequences of the crisis and of the “bail out” program was imposed on them, it was quite natural that voters would turn their back to the traditional parties, in their search for somebody willing to struggle.

The second thing the cadres of the European Left did not realize was that their adversary was decided to go to the end. They were prepared for some sort of “easy reformism”, not for more serious clashes. They signed a nearly revolutionary manifesto (, back in 2011, but they did nothing to apply it.

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