On April 28, I shall temporarily be moving to Athens. I will be there to support MeRA25 [DiEM25’s Greek political party] in our European electoral battle. Now, you may ask, why would a Portuguese citizen move to Greece to do such a thing? Well, because this is a matter very close to my heart, and ought to be close to yours too. Let me tell you why.
In 2015, when Syriza gained ‘power’, a sense of hope emerged throughout the country. A feeling so strong that it was palpable across the entire continent as well. Everybody was watching with immense interest the political developments there. For many, seeing the government of a small country challenge the dictates of the powerful was like witnessing a political revolution by other means. A modern-day David vs Goliath of historic significance. Change was happening and we were all living witnesses to it.
Here was a government willing to resist the disastrous policies of austerity which had turned Greece into a debt colony. At a time when the Portuguese and Spanish centre-right governments were doing exactly the opposite, happily following the dictates of the Troika, I felt more Greek than Portuguese. In the end, this small act of resistance wasn’t enough. Instead of continuing the fight for justice, the government gave up trying, opting instead for capitulation. In doing so, it destroyed the hopes of millions of Greeks who had put their trust and faith in them.
Ever heard of the term ‘U-turn’? Ever wondered why people across Europe are increasingly skeptical of political parties, governments and institutions? Because instead of representing them, these parties promise to change their lives only to U-turn on their promises the very day when they’re in power. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Political will is a powerful instrument. Electing people who will always fight for what is right and be on the right side of history, regardless of the pressure that’s exerted on them, is precisely what we need, and who we need in office. This is what our Greek political party, whose founding I was lucky enough to attend, is offering Greeks today. People who will fight for truth and justice no matter the cost to them. People who will not commit U-turns to save their careers. People who will stand by people everywhere, from urban to rural areas, because we all want good jobs, a good education, good healthcare, decent housing and public services. We all want this.
Instead of pitting people against one another, MeRA25 is rightly pitting the 99% [most of us] against the 1% [the oligarchs, financiers, unelected bureaucrats and the banks]. Because we are all being screwed by them, whether we sense it or not. It’s silent abuse with silent suffering. People unable to put food on the table. Mental health plummeting. Hundreds of thousands of young Greeks leaving their country in search of a better future, and so on and so forth.
The lesson of our time is this one: no individual country – aside from major economies – is able to challenge the dominant paradigm. To challenge it, we need transnational mobilisation against the very people waging the class war that is being perpetrated in our name. This is why I’m temporarily moving to Greece. Because I have more in common with a working class Greek, than with a Portuguese banker.
We cannot be serious about social change unless we admit that we are all in this together. Some somewhat richer than others, some black, some white, some gay, some transgender, some straight, some Portuguese, German or Croatian. But beyond the purported difference there is a common denominator: the fact that we are all being abused by a corrupt system that does not represent our interests, or what is good for our societies.
We can no longer live as individual subjects bereft of power. By acting in such a way we are already admitting defeat before we have even tried fighting. And we may pretend to be happy, and we may ignore the suffering of the ‘other’, stuck in our bubbles of hedonistic pleasurable existence, until one day they come for you and you are left wondering why nobody was left to defend you. When we appear to live in societies that have lost hope on a massive scale, our task can only be to bring it back.
Davide Cesário Castro is DiEM25’s Social Media Coordinator, elected member of DiEM25 Belgium’s National Collective and co-founder of the World Solidarity Forum
Follow him on Twitter @dcpcastro
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