Building Education for the Commons
There is a certain courage required by those seeking to change the world. The way our world is able to keep reproducing itself, to reproduce injustices, to undermine the voice of the people from rising up and so on, is through a structure of fear. Fear forces one to give up, to be resigned to the world as it is, even as this world is populated with monstrous horrors. Fear is the act of giving up and is a failure of courage to stand and proclaim truths. These truths threaten the fundamentals of a capitalist world and prevent it from reproducing itself.
But how is such courage possible? Courage can only exist if one is willing to confront injustice, and take the side of truths. Recently different insurrectionary movements have embraced courage and through various collectivities have raised our collective consciousness to the awareness that capitalism-cum-military regimes are fundamentally dangerous to humanity. The two prominent movements were the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement.
More recently, the Greeks have had enough and they took a stand against the injustices of capitalistic finance that have forced their entire people into a form of enslavement via economic austerity measures. I have personally witnessed this great depression in Greece where mothers and fathers with children are forced into trash bins seeking food. Suicides are linked to what neoliberalism has done to the Greek people so we can say that capitalist greed literally kills people. Unemployment rates are at 60% for youth and over 25% overall. Neo-Fascist movements are on the rise such as the Golden Dawn. Keep in mind that fascism and capitalism are intimately linked together, they always have been, and always will be.
We can say then that austerity measures must be identified as a technique by which a people are crushed into submission. The rise of Syriza thus embodies a collective movement of courage that seeks to stand-up to the European Central Bank, Germany’s ruling class, and the IMF. You should know that many working-class people in Greece refer to Germany’s current position of power as the “Fourth Reich.”
Whether or not Syriza can succeed in defending its people from the crushing weight and “quasi-religious” morality of capitalism (i.e., “You must pay your debt, even if you’re not responsible, and even if the debt is immoral”) remains to be seen, although its first battle was a decisive victory for Germany’s finance minister. Nevertheless, Syriza represents a counter-populist movement against neoliberalism that could spark a return to democracy in Europe.
The other significant issue that must be confronted is the issue of parliamentary democracy, which many, including Alain Badiou, have argued is just too susceptible to the ruling-class’ interests and so actually undermines democracy in the name of it. One of Syriza’s principle aims is to emancipate the Greek people from this economic enslavement by the wealthy class. The point here is that the Greeks (and the Spanish are forming a counter-movement to neoliberalism too), are forced into fighting for their very survival. What you see in Greece and in other periphery countries in Europe (the so-called “Piigs” Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) is the actual logic of global finance capitalism that forces entire peoples into enslaved “disciplinary” zones of impoverishment. These countries have become the new ghettoes in which people must subsist in increasingly dehumanizing ways. This is the inner-essence of capitalism.
But the courageous refuse to be reduced to the in-human robots that Wall-Street and others desire us to be. They are started to organize and to collect the weapons of the human spirit and the principles of democracy are emerging again into historic focus. The time to organize is now upon us. The time to unify under the banner of democracy has dawned. The sun has arisen, the day has come.
The Global Center for Advanced Studies is organizing a conference entitled, “Democracy Rising” in which leading academics and activists are convening to discuss, to organize, and to form relationships in order to think together the coordinates of our time. This conference is free and open to the public.