Recently, we have seen developments that are unprecedented not just by Greek but also by international standards. The new finance minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, for instance, declared in parliament the day after signing the agreement that it was the worst day of his life, and that while he “doesn’t know” if it was the “right thing,” they “didn’t have any other options.”
He “doesn’t know” if he did the “right thing” but he nevertheless did it. Not only did he accept the agreement, but he called on his colleagues and comrades to do the same! All this in the name of not having any other options — in other words, “There Is No Alternative,” a motto which not only embodies the denial of every left-wing idea, but is also tantamount to the dissolution of the notion of politics altogether, a notion entirely reliant on the fact that there are always alternatives and possible choices.
It is, however, the prime minister himself who offered the clearest example in this operation of self-denial of responsibility. Alexis Tsipras told the public broadcaster ERT that he “disagrees” with the agreement and doesn’t “believe” in it. And he also justified his actions by invoking the absence of any other option.
However, not even once did he ask the question: how, after five and a half months of being in office and with 62 percent of the people backing him in an anti-austerity referendum, was he left with no other option than submitting to another austerity package that was even worse than the previous one?
Despite disapproving of the agreement, Tsipras asked his Syriza’s members of parliament to collude in this blatant violation of the popular mandate and of national sovereignty, threatening to resign should he not receive their unanimous support. Something he, of course, ultimately refused to do despite having to face the resounding refusal of thirty-nine of them.
But with the statement he issued on July 16, he embarked on a further step in this direction. If no one questions that he was indeed subjected to a vicious blackmail, Tsipras claims, then not supporting him equals a refusal to share responsibility. And this “comes into conflict with the principles of comradeship and solidarity, while inflicting an open wound within our ranks.”
In other words, because Tsipras succumbed to an unquestionably real blackmail, he called on his party’s MPs to follow him in this catastrophic move. As if the reality of the blackmail automatically equals the absence of options other than the one chosen by him.