EDITORIAL

From Russia with love

The overwhelming victory of the so-called ‘radical left’ in Greece concerned some and made others enthusiastic. The comrades of ideological creed from European countries saw in the Hellenic case a first step towards a larger revolutionary wave. On the other hand, the political status-quo – the Liberal or Social-Democratic parties – is scared about the possible populist contagion that would mean a risky adventure for the entire Europe. Some believe that the stake of the European discord is the irresponsible drift of Greek politics, incapable to keep up the pace imposed by the common strategy of partner states. In other words, the question the EU leaders are asking themselves is: What do we do with the wash-out? Are we expelling them or are we paying them extra to keep them on our side? Others are worried about the example of an open challenge of the principle of Liberal economy and of the counter-measures anticipated: strengthening the public system to the detriment of the private one, nationalisation of banks and of selected services of strategic interest (railways, postal services, airports etc.), a much more generous welfare state.

And yet, what should be of even more concern is something different to the renegotiation of the debt repayment which is the first point of the electoral programme – and which was also the key to success in a country exasperated with prolonged austerity. The last point of the programme, number 40, promises that the country will be removed from NATO. Of course, the opposition to the military treaty is nothing new in Greece, and there are also ideological motivations. The problem however are the ramifications, because that could mean possible privileged relations with Russia. There is just one genuine alternative to the EU diktat – the Russian sphere of influence. We already have the Hungarian case, where PM Viktor Orban’s conservative regime pushed a ‘non-Liberal democracy’ – and extremely suggestive proprietary phrase – with serious Russian economic support. In its case, the nationalism, authoritarianism, but also the refusal of certain Liberal values became consonant with the Vladimir Putin regime and with its anti-West ideology. But the Greek Leftist – Syriza is actually a federation of parties and movements, some self-declared Maoist or Trotskyist Communists- are just as interested in Russia. Their new foreign minister has had relations with Alexandr Dugin, one of Putin’s ideologists, the promoter of ‘Eurasia’ – an alternative to the EU, actually a rethinking of Russian imperialism under the new post-Soviet circumstances. Targeted by such plans is also Romania, and one of the recent local scandals was about a so-called ‘Dugin’s list’ reportedly including potential agents of influence among Romanian politicians in academics. But what are the levers of such an ideological seduction? One is Orthodoxy, common to the Greeks, Serbs, Bulgarians, Romanians and Russians. As far as the latter are concerned, their imperialism has found for a few centuries now – even during the Communist period – a serious reason in supporting the ‘Orthodox brothers’. It is not a coincidence that Vladimir Putin is regarded at the Athos Mountain – a citadel of radical (meaning reactionary Orthodoxy) – as a political leader living up to their philosophy on a genuinely Orthodox society. The measures implemented by the Putin regime in support of ‘public morality’ – among other things against ‘sexual deviations’ – have enhanced the prestige of the man seen as a new pious and courageous tsar. Of course, Syriza pursues a greater secularisation, which also requires a more daring constitutional reform to break the still too close link between the State and the Orthodox Church – point number 26 of the electoral programme. All the more so as point 8 expressly provides for the abolishment of tax privileges the Church benefits from, which are notable, and sometimes even an opportunity for onerous business – there is a famous case that happened a few years ago, involving an abbot of an Athos monastery who ended up in prison on such an account. Some more recent statements of the Syriza leaders however leave a door open to an accommodation of the Orthodox Church, which means that such an ideological conflict is no longer very topical. But there are also other possible convergences with Vladimir Putin’s regime. On the one hand, the propagandistic exploitation of patriotic ego, as if Greece was facing some kind of foreign invasion (especially German, the precedent set by WWII being extensively speculated on), which motivates the attempt to break away from partners that are regarded as perfidious: the EU would just want to take advantage of the country’s weakness from a financial point of view and the US are using their allies in their imperialist policy. Point number 38 of the electoral programme promises that military cooperation with Israel will be dropped and support will be given for the constitution of a Palestinian state – actually a common view of several European strategists who blame the US-Israel alliance for the world’s economic and political imbalances. But the strangest position of the new Hellenic government is the one on the conflict in Ukraine. During a visit to Moscow, the in-coming Greek Prime Minister, Alexius Tsipras, denounced the presence of ‘Neo-Nazis’ in the Kiev government. The ideological fight of the Left against the extreme Right is known, but such statements made in a specific context sound more like support promised to Moscow for its imperialist claims.

Without reminding that the new Greek defence minister  – it is still to be seen how point number 10 of the electoral programme introducing a drastic defence budget cut will be implemented – is also a nationalist close to Russia, we cannot help observing that the European pro-Russia internal front is concerning. Whether it is cynicism or political irresponsibility, an adventurer’s risk or naïve calculation, what worries is that behind ideological confrontations there is the blindness to the Russian threat. Current History text books tell us about the blindness of European politicians of times passed to Russia’s perfidious plans. Today, driven by their hatred of American (and German) hegemony, some are against looking with interest towards the East. Forgetting the lessons of the past  far too easily.

 

 

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