Bolivarian Messages in Greek Bottles – How are the developments in Venezuela “translated” in the Greek debate on the crisis?

Konstantinos Gousis



“We want to become the Venezuela of the Mediterranean; communal power, nationalizations, workers' control, popular sovereignty”, “Those who ask for an exit from the Eurozone want Greece to become like Venezuela; endless queues, empty supermarkets, bankruptcy”. These are two competing narratives embedded within the Greek debate on the crisis. There is always a tendency to locate political and social situations existing in the same historical period and present them as paradigms of alternative or disaster in order to strengthen a political or ideological position. Neoliberal narratives globally “use” Venezuela as an asset in the TINA (There is No Alternative) strategy. What is interesting politically in the Greek case is that Greece's ruling Syriza party has been elected as an anti-neoliberal party and at the end of the day has replicated a left version of the TINA strategy. After the implementation of the memorandums by SYRIZA, government officials have even reproduced the neoliberal arguments against the bolivarian project in order to justify more austerity measures. In the first part of this presentation I’ll focus on the question if there is a common ground of parallelism between Venezuela and Greece based on the different structure of production, class formation and geopolitical position between them. In the second part, I’ll examine the various interpretations of the political developments in Venezuela and their limits by different tendencies of the communist and radical left in Greece. While the “idealization – underestimation” dipole in the left analysis can be met all over world, in the Greek case emphasis will be put on the following questions: How important is the role of Greek social movements’ solidarity to the Bolivarian project against imperialist attacks and vice versa? What would a “radical chavismo” project mean in Greece? In conclusion, I will emphasize on the ways that the views of the Greek left on Venezuela affects their positions on an alternative road for Greece.

Latin America