Via The Tyee, an article I published on January 27: Is Canada Ripe for a Syriza Movement? Excerpt:
When the Greek colonels overthrew democracy in its birthplace in 1967, the Americans were not directly involved, but they were aware of what was going on and supported the junta. It took seven years before the junta collapsed.
And of course the United States was behind the military coup that overthrew Chile's elected president Salvador Allende in 1972. Henry Kissinger, then the secretary of state, had strongly backed the coup, saying the Chileans could not be allowed to be "irresponsible" in choosing such a leader. Like Iran, Guatemala, and Greece, Chile was consigned to years of state terror.
An old Chinese saying advises, "Kill the chicken to scare the monkey," meaning you kill the weaker enemy to scare the stronger enemy. Such ousters were intended as a deterrent to anyone who might think their country would be better off with left-wing policies. With Chile it was finally clear: no serious left-winger would be allowed to take power democratically in any region where the U.S. felt it had strategic interests.
Almost 45 years after Allende, that unwritten doctrine was challenged in Greece on Sunday. Syriza won the election with 36 per cent of the vote -- pretty close to the 39.62 per cent that got Stephen Harper a majority in 2011. With 149 seats, just two short of an absolute majority, Syriza has become the government with the aid of a populist far-right party, Anel, noted for its anti-semitism and German-focused xenophobia.
Alexis Tsipras, Syriza's leader and Greece's new prime minister, is only 40. Wikipedia says he was born on July 28, 1975, "three days after the fall of the Greek military junta." He started as a Young Communist but stayed in the left-wing coalition Synaspismos after the Greek Communist Party left it. He is clearly a very smart man with a lot of political experience.
Six years of failure
But his experience on the Athens city council has not equipped him to deal with neoliberals in the European Union like Angela Merkel. The economic powers in Europe have been locked into austerity as the only thinkable response to the meltdown of 2007-08; seven years of failure have not weakened their resolve to continue the beatings until morale improves.
Tsipras's victory has already encouraged others. Spain's Podemos (an ironic translation of Obama's "Yes we can") has grown in less than six months from nothing into the country's second-largest party, with 300,000 members. Like Greece, Spain has taken a beating from its E.U. partners, and morale has not improved.
Least of all has morale improved among the young southern Europeans who have paid the costs of the meltdown and E.U.-decreed austerity -- in careers lost, families struggling, educations wasted.
For Greeks, Italians and Spaniards born since Tsipras, economic depression is the basic condition of life. Ireland is exporting its young people again. Even social democracies like Sweden and Finland are struggling to make ends meet, and neo-fascist groups are raising the spectre of job competition from immigration to attract new members.