The election of SYRIZA, a leftist coalition party, in Greece, has understandably rocked European politics to its very foundation. It has inspired myriad reactions on the Left, ranging from unrestrained, and often uncritical, joy and adulation, to cynical mistrust of “reformism” and electoral politics as a means of transformation.
However, what is missing from these analyses is the important fact that while Greek politics is undoubtedly vital to the future of the country, it is not the only means by which the Greek working class and poor are building a future for themselves and their children. Rather, the last five years have inspired an entire solidarity movement organized to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable in Greek society.
From co-operative cafes and kitchens, to the establishment of direct producer-consumer relations, the solidarity economy (“informal economy” to use the more traditional phraseology) has opened new horizons of possibility for ordinary Greek people. But are these possibilities merely temporary fixes that will evaporate like morning dew now that a leftist government is in power? This seems unlikely, as solidarity structures have entrenched themselves in the very fabric of the communities they serve.
However, the question remains: can the solidarity economy move beyond acting as a temporary solution, and instead become a true alternative to traditional capitalist production?