A crucial question that emerges especially in periods of big dilemmas is whether the Left can support an idea that does not have peoples’ support. In other words: Can the legitimacy of the Left be based upon opinion polls?
This question is not only theoretical. For instance, does the Greek Left have the right to open the discussion and demand the exit from the Eurozone and EU?
My opinion is yes, the Greek Left has this right, but under a very strict condition: Its demands and broader analysis has to be originated from the working class and the interests of the majority, with the ultimate goal to reflect the interests of the whole European working class. Furthermore, its demand for exit from the EU and the Eurozone must be in conflict with the interests of the ruling class. It is not difficult to prove that as time goes by the EU is increasingly becoming the spearhead of the capital. Measures that the governments cannot impose alone are being voted in the parliaments by the form of EU mandates (Stability Pact, Report of 5 presidents, et. al.). Even, in the extreme case where people vote against austerity, the participation in the EZ and the EU does not allow the implementation of the popular will (this is what happened in Greece in 2015) and ultimately the principal dilemma “in favor or against the austerity” becomes “memoranda or Grexit”, catching the Left unprepared to give the appropriate response. This shows that in order to defend peoples’ interests you must question the role of the European institutions. But a position like this does not look so attractive…
Today, the most unpopular attitude is that of challenging capitalism and promoting socialist and revolutionary ideas. However, despite this reality, the leftwing parties worldwide continue to propagandize the transgression of capitalism, struggling to alter peoples’ opinion.
It is no doubt true, that the majority of people seem to reject the idea of exit from the Eurozone and the EU, due to the “terrorist” dilemmas posed by the mainstream media and political parties, which present the attack of the capital (from flexibility of labor relations to political freedom) as a European directive and social modernization, concealing its social content. In other words, they promote it as something that cannot be questioned. The Left has its own share of responsibility on this veil of silence because it failed to open the discussion, under its own terms, about the character of the EU and the common currency. Its inefficiency is much more striking if we compare it with the inveterate enmity of the Latin American Left against any kind of US-led economic integration in the American continent.
Furthermore, we can doubt or we can be very skeptical about this matter. The opinion polls, which present people being in favor of euro and EU, are the same opinion polls that have record epic failures during the elections of every European country. On the contrary, in many occasions when European people where asked about concrete issues of EU integration, they have rejected them. This happened in Ireland (2008), France (2005), Sweden (2003) and Denmark (1992, 2000).
In any case, the representation of class interests is not a beauty contest. The Left will be judged for its incapability to reveal the underlying social relations and political links as the means to analyze and change a complex situation. This task was never an easy job or a matter of public relations.
The artice was initially published on: http://stocktaking-scenarios.blog.rosalux.de/2016/01/09/leonidas-vatikiotis-the-left-and-opinion-polls/