If the Greek experience of the past two years shows anything, it is that conventional Left politics, even with massive electoral support and control of the government, cannot prevail against finance capital and its international allies. European creditors continue to force Greek citizens to endure the punishing trauma of austerity politics with no credible scenario for economic recovery or social reconstruction in sight.
After the governing coalition Syriza capitulated to creditors’ draconian demands in 2016, its credibility as a force for political change declined. Despite its best intentions, it could not deliver. The Greek people might understandably ask: Have we reached the limits of what the conventional Left can achieve within “representative democracies” whose sovereignty is so compromised by global capital? Beyond such political questions, citizens might also wonder whether centralized bureaucratic programs in this age of digital networks can ever act swiftly and responsively. Self-organized, bottom-up federations of commoning often produce much better results.
Pummeled by some harsh realities and sobered by the limits of Left politics, many Greeks are now giving the commons a serious look as a political option. This was my impression after a recent visit to Athens where I tried to give some visibility to the recently published Greek translation of my book Think Like a Commoner. In Greek, the book is entitled Κοινά: Μια σύντομη εισαγωγή. Besides a public talk at a bookstore (video here), I spoke at the respected left Nicos Poulantzas Institute (video with Greek translation & English version), which was eager to host a discussion about commons and commoning.