The Greek Vanguard; Europe's Forlorn Hope


It is mid-July and yesterday, after a day of heavy atmosphere the clouds broke just after 6 o'clock. A few drops hit the warm, dry ground in front of me before the deluge begins. Of course this is nothing out of the ordinary, nothing but your standard English summer, because without rain it would not be an English summer. The heat, the rain, the long nights and the complete unpredictability leave me with a sense of great metaphor with our current European politics. Of course it is possible to see a metaphor in anything, if one looks hard enough, but I'd like to think that this one holds true. Of course what do I mean? I mean that the same terms with which we would describe our English summer; Stuffy, changeable and disappointing can also be used in relation to Europolitics right now.

The thing is, that as neither an avid Europhile nor committed Euroskeptic I find myself in a similar position to (I believe) very many on these islands. As a result I am finding it hard to be swayed by either camp in the 'Brexit' debate. Strangely enough however in the battle (for now surely it is a battle) over the Greek question I appear to have been increasingly convinced by the arguments of the 'Oxi' movements. That is, I find myself in wholehearted and irretrievable support for the people of Greece.

What does this mean? And what can this mean for those of us who feel affiliation with the Greek people? The austerity movement which has been gaining momentum in this country has given the political elites, especially those on the left much to reconsider. What is happening in many countries is the separation of the popular from the parliamentary movements at the weakening of both. When these two are reconciled there will be the mandate and the means to provide effective opposition to the conservative governments of Europe. But only once they are reconciled. In this respect Britain, Spain etc. can be seen as in the early stages of this development; with the advent of strong popular and social movements in the previous months. Indeed, they are following the footsteps as it were, of the Greek people and her government. The fate of Syriza and the Oxi campaigns have become so important therefore because they are the forlorn hope of the new European socialism.

If I were to stick with the metaphors I would relate my previous point to the way in which global warming is affecting out climate (i.e. the status quo). I am not. For this would be far too simple an analogy to make. The Greek crisis is far from the dropping of a stone into a pond, to which we must respond the ripples it creates. It is as unpredictable as it is at times frustrating and at times emboldening. Most of all it is far from removed from our shores. These last weeks have seen in this country the building of popular movements against Conservative economic, social and environmental policy. These 'leftist' mass movements have most notably emboldened the campaign for the Labour leadership and led to strikes and anti-austerity marches. In these situations there have been glimpses of unity on the British left.

And this is what I choose to take from the Greek situation; that within or without the EU it is the peoples of Europe who must come first and foremost in our minds. In the current Grexit and upcoming Brexit debates there needs to be a concerted socialist discussion as to the benefits of EU membership to our respective nations beyond bankers and big business to the everyday person in their homes and workplaces. I am coming to the conclusion that this summer is the beginning of the great debate over Europe. This will be the great debate of our time. In this we must separate the concept of Europe from the EU and look beyond nationhood to a shared European humanity. Most of all the current crisis has left many in little doubt that the EU must be reformed drastically. Whether Britain should work for these reforms from within the European Union is the choice that we are now faced with. Regardless of the choice we will each have to make; the same choice the Greek people face right now, we must accept our moral and historic rights as Europeans, as well as our responsibilities.


By: Joseph SaundersI am a University of Glasgow history undergraduate. Twitter @JosephSaunders_.  

Joe also writes the blog twentyfirstcenturyhistory.wordpress.com, which is a part of our blog network.
The Greek Vanguard; Europe's Forlorn Hope The Greek Vanguard; Europe's Forlorn Hope Reviewed by Unknown on 17:29 Rating: 5

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