Andreas Karitzis

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Bio

"Andreas Karitzis studied engineering and he has a PhD in Philosophy. He is a member of the Central Committee of SYRIZA and a member of the board of Nikos Poulantzas Institute. He is also a member of the Digital Policy Department of the Party. He has been a member of the Political Secretariat of SYRIZA (responsible for political strategy and planning) and of its Program Committee (responsible for the «humanitarian crisis» policies). He has been a member of Synaspismos (the biggest party that participated in the formation of SYRIZA) since 1997 and he was appointed as the spokesman of the party from 2007 till 2009. He is the author of the book «Logic and Method of a Left Government» (in Greek)."


Interview

Undertaken by George Souvlis in the context of taking stock of the experience of Syriza. We select here the 'personal' excerpts:

  • 1) "Would you like to present yourself by focusing on the formative experiences – both academic and political?

By the time the Soviet Union was falling apart I was becoming a leftist. Having nothing else but the aftermath of a historical defeat around me (even knowing what Soviet Union really was), being a leftist was primarily a choice of deep, personal connection with those humans who fought, and will fighting for a better world, exemplifying the best qualities of our species. The way I saw it back then was that despite the ominous days that were seemingly ahead of us in the early 90’s, there was only one choice: to take my position and engage in the battle. From this moment on, there was no time to whine and be disappointed; when you are in the battlefield all you care about is what is helpful to your cause. The same train of thought is what is keeping me active and creative during these last difficult months after the Greek defeat of last summer.

Additionally, being raised in a poor, working-class family I had from early on a sense of gratitude: the local and global balance of forces that happened to exist when I was a child gave me access to a decent education. I could “see” that I owed this precious opportunity to millions of people who devoted their lives, suffered and died all over the world for equality and freedom. This sense of gratitude and the deep respect for those fighters of the past, helped me to define who I am, the capacities that I have acquired, as being directly involved in political action. Using these capacities in a narrow, selfish way – as a means for individual social ascent – would be disrespectful towards the previous generations, and irresponsible towards present and future generations. I think that this – universal in kind – disposition is one of the strongest influences on me.

Regarding my political experiences, I joined Synaspismos in 1997 and then SYRIZA. I was a member of their Central Committee from 2004 till 2015 as one of Tsipras’ generation of political cadres, so to speak. I have been a member of Political Secretariat (2007-10 spokesman of the party and 2013-14 co-chairing Programme and Political Planning Committees). I also served as campaign manager at the municipality elections of Athens in 2006 (with Tsipras as candidate) and the Regional Government elections in Attica (candidate Dourou, the present governor) in 2014. I was also engaged in media and communication campaigns of SYRIZA in 2007 (national elections) and 2009 (european elections). Finally, among many other things, I have been a member of the managing board of Nicos Poulantzas Institute for the past 8 years.

I studied mechanical engineering, then philosophy and history of science and technology and I did a PhD in contemporary analytic philosophy. My studies were disconnected in content from my active political participation, but they heavily shaped my political behavior in a rigorous and efficiency-driven direction. Theoretical work on Marxian and left literature was a crucial part of my political engagement, instead of being an academic and abstract kind of work. My traditional influences come mainly from Althusser and Poulantzas among others, like most of the people in the Greek Left of my generation. Gradually, I was immersed in less traditional left literature, that in my case, mainly included Foulcault, and the theoretical debate that was initiated during the last decades by Laclau.

However, being gradually aware of the gravity of the current predicament of humankind, my influences have been increasingly eclectic, drawing from entirely different resources. My current focus is on methodology of emancipatory politics. This is mainly concerned with organizational issues of building hybrid (from a traditional left point of view) institutions, as well as managerial/methodological issues of building popular power and interacting with state institutions, in the new environment of the radical restructuring of institutions due to the influence of digital technologies in the broader neoliberal framework.


* 2) How you would describe yourself in political terms?

It’s hard to tell anymore. The traditional terms we use to describe our political identities point to a totally different political and social environment. We need to radically modify these if we want to be relevant to today’s demanding tasks and antagonisms.

Let’s be frank; despite all the subtleties and the complexities of our situation the truth is that we, the people, are facing a brutal attack by the elites that would affect the fate of all humans across the planet. We are now entering a transitional phase in which a new kind of despotism is emerging, combining the logic of financial competition and profit with pre-modern modes of brutal governance alongside pure, lethal violence and wars. On the other hand, for the first time in our evolutionary history we have huge reserves of embodied capacities, a vast array of rapidly developing technologies, and values from different cultures within our immediate reach. We are living in extreme times of unprecedented potentialities as well as dangers. We have a duty which is broader and bolder than we let ourselves realize.

But, we haven’t yet found the ways to reconfigure the “we” to really include everyone we need to fight this battle. The “we” we need cannot be squeezed into identities taken from the past – from the “end of history” era of naivety and laziness in which the only thing individuals were willing to give were singular moments of participation. Neither can the range of our duty be fully captured anymore by the traditional framing of various “anti-capitalisms”, since what we have to confront today touches existential depths regarding the construction of human societies. We must reframe who “we” are – and hence our individual political identities – in a way that coincides both with the today’s challenges and the potentialities to transcend the logic of capital. I prefer to explore a new “life-form” that will take on the responsibility of facing the deadlocks of our species, instead of reproducing political identities, mentalities and structural deadlocks that intensify them.

We often tend to believe that removing our opponents from power means that, somehow, the problems caused by them, and the new challenges we are facing, will disappear. In fact, it is the other way around: by developing ways to administer populations and run basic social functions with decentralized, democratic modes of governance based on the liberation of people’s capacities we will gradually acquire the necessary self-confidence to really challenge the elites’ hegemony and dominance. If we start really believing that we can administer societies differently (in a way that can cope with present day challenges), then the fall of neoliberalism will only be a matter of time. I strongly believe that this is the most crucial part.

It is up to us to make a solid and decisive step towards a new personal/interpersonal and social/institutional configuration that will bury once and for all the concentration of power in the hands of a few as the only way of administering human societies. But we must perform a “paradigm shift” in order to acquire the leverage needed to overcome the elites’ power and the position of capital as the only mediator between people’s activities.

I sense that we need a political identity that embraces the critical situation we are in and that will allows us to get over the profound problems we face. We must push ourselves to think differently. We must push our collectivities to see differently and spot the potentialities and materials we had never thought of as being useful to us. I strongly believe that we are far stronger than we think. Based on these thoughts, I would prefer not to describe myself in terms that belong to the past." (http://www.criticatac.ro/lefteast/andreas-karitzis-the-left-in-power-what-can-we-learn-from-the-case-of-syriza-part-i/)