Two short lessons from Syriza’s youth movement

I’ve just come out of a meeting hosted by the leadership of Syriza’s youth movement. The Labour Party’s Greek sister party, after allying with the right to implement austerity, look set to be wiped out in tomorrow’s election and it is likely that Syriza will form the first serious left government in Europe. Syriza is not perfect but the progress is has made should give leftists everywhere pause for thought.

They made two points which struck me as relevant to Young Labour

1) An autonomous and political youth movement
The Syriza election program is more radical than anything being proposed in British politics. Yet, when asked about the relationship between the youth movement and the future Syriza government, the young people are determined to defend their autonomy and not comprise on their principles.
They claim that it is not enough for the movements to transport demands from the people to the future left government, they need to remain as an effective opposition to the government. For them, a left government is not enough. The crucial goal is to build the power of the youth and the workers to make change for themselves. I strongly believe that this spirit should be adopted by those in Young Labour.

2) The right to organise and hold minority views
In Labour there is a strong emphasis on loyalty to the leadership which I believe can be detrimental. This can sometimes mean trying to defend things you do not believe or having a great suspicion of anyone who tries to organise around politics that differ from those of the leadership. This is defended on the grounds that division breeds defeat.
This belief is not strong amongst Syriza youth, even on the day before the election. Pluralism and internal democracy is celebrated. Internal political tendencies openly disagree and argue over what a Syriza government should do, and even on what is the purpose of the party. I’ve met people from different tendencies and they are all claim that this pluralism is key to Syriza’s success.

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