This Sunday, 25 January, Greeks will vote in parliamentary elections of potentially historic importance, with Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza coalition currently ahead in the opinion polls. But according to Frédéric Lordon, Germany’s grip on the situation and the Greek radical Left party’s own inconsistencies might condemn it to some painful acrobatics.
For a long time Europe has been caught in a constitutional trap of its own making, with its neo-liberal treaties offering just two ways out of the current impasse: 1) the financial collapse of the European project, under the weight of its own internal contradictions; or 2) some political mishap coming along that will overthrow the whole system. The ECB’s announcement of the OMT programme  has avoided the first of these eventualities – for now – which leaves the second. And that’s the reason why the ‘European-institutional party’ has come to see democracy not as a normal state of political life but rather as a permanent source of threats – and it thinks itself justified in using any means necessary to stamp them out.
With Sunday's election approaching, the political theorist and leader of Syriza's Left Platform Stathis Kouvelakis comments on the movement and what's at stake, not only for the people of Greece but also for the rest of Europe.
I’ll make a few brief remarks on the Greek election campaign and the situation within Syriza, in order to help overcome the frustration of not being there. I reckon these comments are relatively ‘cool-headed’ – distance allows for that, at least.
1. The signs I’m getting from friends and comrades, in both Athens and the rest of Greece – corroborated by ‘local’ surveys (for the regions and major cities) – are all pointing the same way. It looks like there’s a wave of support heading Syriza’s way this Sunday. In the working-class districts of Athens the Right faces an utter rout. Meanwhile, outside the capital whole chunks of the right-wing electorate are now breaking for Syriza, following former PASOK voters. There is a calm atmosphere in the country, but at the same time real expectation is mounting. The conditions are ripe for a dynamic to build behind Syriza.
Paul Mason follows in the footsteps of Virginia Woolf in search of fictional character in the age of social media.
I get on a train and there, eventually, is Eleni Haifa: about 22, massive hair and 5 ft tall.
She is either Italian, Jewish, Arab, Turkish, Kurdish or Greek. She has olive skin and is wearing high heels with gold tips, a white jacket, oyster coloured skirt and carrying two iPhones, one in a black case and one red.
She has one iPhone in each hand and is transferring something from one to another by typing using her thumbs. But not the tips of her thumbs because her nails are so long – and polished – that she has to use the pads of her thumbs to type, very fast. She puts one down – the one playing her music - and then goes to Facebook on the other: to her profile, where the picture is some kind of cartoon. She flips to What’sApp – I can tell it’s What’sApp from the green message boxes. Between Clapham Junction and Waterloo she spends her switching between What’s App and Facebook. She’s been on the train at least from Richmond.
This month sees the UK cinema release of Steve McQueen’s brilliant and brutal new film, 12 Years a Slave. McQueen has been vocal in condemning cinema’s wariness in confronting the subjects of slavery and race, and his film has galvanized a new interest in the unspeakably ugly period in American history.
Based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 documentary, 12 Years a Slave takes an unflinching look at the story of a free black man from New York who is abducted and sold into slavery.
Verso has long held a commitment to telling similar stories, and we now present a selection of books as the essential starting point for those looking to learn more about the roots, events and legacies of slavery and racial tensions in America and the world.