Tsipras: ‘We have a duty to fight to alleviate inequalities and overcome the system reproducing them’

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stressed the need for a radical plan that would open the way for fighting inequality “through simply, understandable and mature goals,” in his speech at the European Conference “Inequalities, neoliberalism and European integration: progressive answers” in Athens.

Addressing the conference on Saturday evening, Tsipras stressed that societies wanted change:
“We have a duty to fight to alleviate inequalities and to overcome the system reproducing them. We must fight for the alternative prospect, through a radical plan that engages all society,” he said.

He also referred to Saturday’s terrorist strike in Egypt, expressing Greece’s solidarity: “It was a horrific terrorist action that shocked the entire world. There are no words [sufficient] for someone to condemn such an action. And Greece, together with the whole planet, immediately expressed its solidarity with the victims and the entire Egyptian people,” Tsipras said.

The Greek premier noted, however, that “blind terrorism” did not come out of nowhere but was linked to the conditions existing throughout the world, with hundreds of millions faced with insecurity, poverty and a lack of prospects.

“This gap creates the conditions for the rise of religious fanaticism and intolerance and reinforces nationalism, open or concealed fascism, the xenophobic, populist far right,” he added.

Tsipras talked about the inequality created by a “web of injustice covering the whole world” and leading to class, regional and social inequalities, with hundreds of millions deprived of even basic social goods while a few amassed immense wealth.

While the dominant credo of liberating markets had created wealth, he noted, social prosperity was impossible without wealth distribution – something that Greece learned in 2010-2014 when austerity programmes destroyed 25 pct of the country’s GDP and sent unemployment soaring to 27 pct.

More importantly, he added, there was no sign that Europe was moving to reduce these inequalities and this had undermined the traditional political systems and parties while favouring the rise of the far right.

In order to change things, Tsipras said, “the first thing we must do is believe that things will change. Every dominant situation draws its legitimacy from the sense it creates that it is the only alternative. If this were so, history would not have moved forward.”

According to Greece’s premier, the crucial element missing in Europe was democracy and “confidence in an alternative political plan and the belief that this could be feasible and realistic.”

Noting that the extended crisis had “released significant progressive forces,” Tsipras appealed to them to rally together to “…make leftist and progressive ideology a realistic prospect, closing the way to ideologies of cynicism and barbarity.”

Closing his speech, Tsipras noted that there were now three dominant political trends in the world. The first still believed that the world’s future lay in even greater liberation of markets, the second was the populist far right and the third, opposing these two trends, was leftist and progressive ideology, which emphasised the need to make the world more human by supporting the weak and the rights of all to justice, solidarity and dignity.