Sunday, June 28, 2015

John Henley — Greece’s solidarity movement: ‘it’s a whole new model – and it’s working’

As well as helping people in difficulty, Giovanopoulos said, Greece’s solidarity movement was fostering “almost a different sense of what politics should be – a politics from the bottom up, that starts with real people’s needs. It’s a practical critique of the empty, top-down, representational politics our traditional parties practise. It’s kind of a whole new model, actually. And it’s working.”
It also looks set to play a more formalised role in Greece’s future under what polls predict will be a Syriza-led government from next week. When they were first elected in 2012 the radical left party’s 72 MPs voted to give 20% of their monthly salary to a solidarity fund that would help finance Solidarity for All. (Many help further; several have transferred their entitlement to free telephone calls to a local project.) The party says the movement can serve as an example and a platform for the social change it wants to bring about....
Socialism has to be grassroots, or it is just utopianism. Necessity is the mother of invention. Neoliberalism is creating its opposition and replacement along the lines that Marx predicted dialectically. What Marx could not have foreseen in his days was that this could happen peacefully through popular participatory democracy. But we aren't there yet and the neoliberal elite is far from having made its last stand.

The curious thing is that it was already done by American "hippies" in the Sixties and Seventies. "Hippy" was a derogatory term used by the Establishment; we called ourselves "freaks," because the objective was to freak "Them" out. Actually, we had to freak ourselves out first to get over the cultural and institutional baggage. The reason that this was curious at the time is that there was no material need for it. The protest was primarily anti-war but also against a culture and institutions that young people found boring and restrictive.

But a whole new underground economy was created that not only still exists but has greatly expanded. A significant part of it was also co-opted and integrated into the mainstream. For example, music became an industry. I recall a very successful musician and songwriter telling me in the Nineties that he had broken in back in the Sixties by loading up his car up with his records and traveling the country dropping in on DJs. He explained that this was no longer possible since music had become corporatized.

But the alternative economy is now a multi-billion dollar operation in the US that is still providing alternatives and innovating. Greece has the added impetus of material necessity that my generation did not have here in America. It was "revolution for the hell of it" — Abbie Hoffman. And it was a hell of party — in spite of the occasional tear gas and constant threat of being busted.
“This whole thing,” she said, “has made a lot of people very aware, not just of what they face, but also of what they can – and must – do. Expectations are going to be high after Sunday, but there are of course limits to what even a Syriza government will be able to do. It’s up to us, all of us, to change things. And honestly? This feels like a good start.”
Go for it! You have nothing to lose but your chains.

The Guardian
Greece’s solidarity movement: ‘it’s a whole new model – and it’s working’ 
John Henley in Athens
ht Clonal

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