The mythical ‘legacy of Andreas’


The theory and practice of Greece’s Renewing Left – which later became one of the founding forces of SYRIZA (following, of course, numerous additions and transformations which altered the party’s original character) – was formed through its opposition to the neighboring political forces, namely the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and PASOK socialists.

The Renewing Left stood against the dogmatism and mentality of Stalinism found in KKE, but at the same time distanced itself from the populism of late Socialist leader Andreas Papandreou and Papandreou’s cheerleaders, who at the time included Akis Tsochatzopoulos, Theodoros Pangalos, Costas Laliotis and, at a later stage, the proponents of the party’s populist wing, known as the “Avrianistes” (after the name of the pro-PASOK tabloid Avriani).

So when one talks about “the legacy of Andreas,” one ought to approach this legacy in its totality – and not selectively.

Greek politics does not need new legends or myths. After all, what we like to refer to as “charismatic personalities” have done as much service to the country as they have damage.

PASOK – as a system, as an establishment and as a way of thinking – also influenced those parts of society who were not its voters. It is also safe to say that it left its mark on rival political formations. PASOK, nevertheless, came under fire from the minor Renewing Left. The criticism went on while many of its cadres flirted with PASOK, elevating opportunism into ideology. At the same time, many of its supporters voted for PASOK candidates in the second round of local elections, despite their earlier pledges to “never again” vote for Papandreou’s party.

So before Alexis Tsipras or SYRIZA decide to examine their ties to the “legacy of Andreas” or the idealized “early PASOK,” they should first ask themselves (now that they are ruling a country under outside supervision) what their relationship with that small legacy of Renewing Left is. After all, the problem with those who climb to power is not the extent to which they manage to implement their campaign pledges (following the rude awakening that is reality), but rather the extent to which they remain faithful to their founding values and principles.

If SYRIZA’s Pasokification were only a result of the heavy presence amid its ranks of officials who continue to admire Andreas, the malady might be reversible. But it’s far worse than that. In fact, it has reached all the way to the top, as manifested by Tsipras’s recent self-projection against Andreas’s idealized portrait.