Greece Shines a Light

We are in for a rough-and-tumble two years, at least I hope so. If it is not rough-and-tumble, it means that Obama has again folded up his tent and given in to the right, including not only the congressional Republicans, but also members of his own party. So how do we brace ourselves for an ongoing and persistent and, indeed, vicious fight and make sure the president stays with us? Sunday's vote in Greece gives us hope and spirit. In Greece, Syriza won the parliamentary elections. Who is Syriza? It is a new, anti-austerity, and progressive party. It challenges the duopoly of power in Greece, which keeps the wealthy and their bureaucrats in power, while cranking down on the living standards of the people. Greece is a mess, with pensions being shrunk for retirees and utilities like electricity have been cut off from poor people, while the country's resources are being devoted to paying off debt to European banks. The loans for these debts were readily given, so that people in Greece would become consumers in the European Union, for products made in other countries, especially Germany. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

Remember back in the spring of 2014, the European Union held its election. The U.S. media was captivated by the conservative, nationalist, parochial, and even racist political parties that gained support against Europe, especially since the elections in Britain were held before most of the other elections in Europe. But what went unnoticed was the increasing support for the populist parties of the left, those that believed in and held to the standards for social democracy, as opposed to a liberal bourgeois democracy in which the financial sector called the shots.

Looking back at those results, we can see the seeds for Syriza's victory on Sunday... and future victories, victories which portend a politics that elevates the collective needs and aspirations of middle-class and low-income people above the interests and privilege of finance capital. Last spring, parties of the progressive left made headway in Finland, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain and Greece in increasing their voice and power in the European Parliament. Now the popular progressive left has taken power in Greece. This fall Spain will hold its election, and the brand new party of Podemas is gaining strength every day. New populist progressive parties are blossoming in many other European countries.

All this enables us to anticipate a Europe that reins in the corporate and financial side of European and global financial capital and re-asserts the human side of democracy that sets the rules for capitalism. And that may not only lead the way to a sea change in Europe, it may shine the light on how we should move to our own elections of 2016, never giving up, never backing down, and never folding up our tent!

NOTE: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author, and are not endorsed by the Economic Opportunity Institute.

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