For most people in Southern Europe the landslide victory of Syriza on Sunday was the best political news in a long time. Four years after the explosion of social unrest all over southern Europe, the election of Alexis Tsipras to be Greece’s new prime minister (the first far-left leader to be a democratically elected leader of a European country since the 1930s) is a true sign of hope. A prime minister who refuses to be sworn in through a religious ceremony and who, instead of bowing to the monument of the unknown soldier, honors the tomb of the victims of fascism.
As a first deed in office, Alexis Tsipras called the EU Foreign Secretary to declare that Greece will no longer go along the anti-Russian war-mongering and economic sanctions. Now the first country within NATO and EU breaks out of the terrible cycle that aims toward increasing escalation and war. More countries might follow. Already within the first two days in office, Syriza implemented many of its election promises including an elevation of minimum wage and halting the privatization of the Piraeus port. What will now follow? How can the Greek bid for independence and dignity prevail?
The reactions from Berlin, Brussels, London, the United States and the IMF were immediate and straightforward, and came in one voice saying, ‘forget about your plans’; ‘there will be no debt relief’; ‘you got to stick to the policies of austerity, no matter what you want.’ Then the blackmailing started – the stock markets crashed, Standard & Poor’s announced it is about to downgrade Greece’s rating and CNN seriously pulled out claims that Greece is becoming a “hub for Islamist terrorism.” The system of neoliberal capitalism knows that it will only be able to survive so long as it keeps up its holiest of mantras, “there is no alternative.” This narrative is now falling apart however. The ideology of neoliberalism is broken because people begin dreaming again. Perhaps nothing is more dangerous to this system than people starting to follow their dreams again, determined not only to dream, but to bring them into real life. When you see the images from the celebration that took place in Athens on Sunday night, of the exuberant dances and songs, you get a sense of the relief people felt and the immense longing for a genuinely free and just society. The Greek people voted for Syriza so they could breathe again.
What is currently happening in Greece is a sign for the deepening corrosion of the system and for the possibility of something new to emerge. Greece marks a crossroad for all of Europe: it is the decision of if the regime of greed will continue, a regime which has destroyed democracy all over Europe and has driven millions of people into poverty. We all are Greece. If the movement in Greece succeeds it will give the powers working for peace and dignity in Europe and the US the leverage to scrap the plans of North Atlantic strategists, which threaten all of us; to both end the North-Atlantic free trade project and the increasing aggression towards Russia. We must support Alexis Tsipras to be able to stand strong and carry through on the mission he began. How would real support look?
In many left-wing comments Greece is already now becoming an example for a new path. But what does it mean to really step out of the capitalist system? What is really a new path? Imagine if people actually regained autonomy on the ground, if they established communities where they could supply themselves with everything they need for a life of dignity and freedom: water, energy, food, creative expression, cultural life, fulfilling human contact. First examples are already arising. Systems where human beings no longer exploit and abuse the Earth, but produce all they need in decentralized ways, in alignment with the functional logic of the living world.
Imagine a first country would really break out of the global mechanism and make itself independent, for it created autonomy in terms of its material needs and a new connection between human beings based on reliable trust and solidarity! It would change the world forever, for it would open the door into a new form of life, which eventually everyone would like to walk in. A new socialism is based on a fundamental renewal of our political and economic, social and ecological life structures.
We are now entering a stage in human evolution where it is no longer arbitrary whether or not we manifest this dream and step into a truly harmonious relationship with each other and nature. It has become a matter of survival. Neoliberalism and austerity is only the tip of the iceberg; it is about a whole new world ahead that will abandon the entire system of exploitation and war forever. In order to come through we need to stand in solidarity will all projects, regions and countries trying to break out of the old mechanism. But even more than solidarity, we need a global alliance of all these local, regional or national initiatives that is not only driven by common resistance but based on a common strategy for system-change and a realistic vision for establishing the new societal structures necessary for it. Only by confronting the planet-killing machine of capitalism with a global alternative, will we able to break out and end the curse. And only by creating model places to demonstrate how this system-change will concretely look will we have the power and endurance to prevail.
Imagine Alexis Tsipras and other leaders could count on such an alliance!
If this movement doesn’t exist, positive political change can hardly be sustainable. If such a movement is becoming strong enough however, then progressive governments can support this system-change on a great level.
The powers of renewal cannot fail if they share a common plan and vision for the future.