Elections and Popular Desire in Greece

I read a lot of hope in this story about Greece in the NYT.  It seems the popular rejection of austerity is beginning to take on a new form, an electoral form, as radical left parties opposed to austerity have gained significant ground in voting.  I do not at all think this shift is necessarily an evolution, or maturation, or long-awaited evidence that the movement is getting stronger.  In fact, I think there is real danger in any reorientation away from Syntagma and Sol, where people turned to each other to share ideas and discover alternatives, and toward electoral politics, in which people turn toward the state to think and act for them.  Nevertheless, I think we can hope that this new manifestation of political desire among people in Greece (and recently in France and Germany) can become merely one more wave, one more mode in which people express their indignation and insist on another alternative, an alternative beyond neoliberalism, and even beyond capitalism.  Of course it could very well happen that electoral victories dissipate the energy of anti-austerity and real-democracy movements.  But it could also happen that any such victories only affirm the need and desire for still more square-taking and assembly-formation.  It could be that the experiences of Avenue Bourguiba and Tahrir and Syntagma and Sol and Zuccotti made too big an impression, that they taught people too much about what they are capable of, about the delight that comes from reappropriating their own power, such that they will now apprehend any electoral success not as a signal to turn everything over to the state, but as merely a political starting point, as just one more way to express their power, and as a reaffirmation of their commitment to continue and deepen the project of real democracy.


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