This is the link
and the abstract of my paper presented at the 1st National Conference on Commons and on Social & Solidarity Economy in Greece, held in Thessalonike 4-7.5.2017.
The paper is an exploration of how the term and practice of solidarity has emerged, been used and abused in Greece since 2008 onwards. This study is part of an ongoing research project that emerged out of my research on solidarity economy in Greece since 2009 and out of the mere fact that as a political being and a researcher that has been trained in solidarity economy by the grassroots communities themselves, I cannot pretend I do not understand that something wrong has happened with solidarity during the last nine or ten years in the country. The analysis stands critically to the fact that, despite the everyday performance of solidarity actions and the vast work done by many groups, collectives or even individual people who join solidarity initiatives occasionally, solidarity kept being understood mostly in an ahistorical way, as a panacea for all socio-economic ills in Greece. The main question of this study is therefore, how the manipulation of the term and of the practices it represented have been a fundamental tool in order that the capitalist classes and their representatives in the local, formal and informal, political stage, suppress the expression and development of the anti-capitalist and possibly anti-patriarchal potential of solidarity practices.
The paper is an investigation grounded on events, discourses and evolutions of political practices in Greece during the last nine years. For the purposes of this paper, I use published material that has been available to everyone through mass media and the internet. My intention is to show that whatever happened with the manipulation through solidarity discourse and through the placement and re-arrangement of solidarity practices within the general social framework, it has happened on public level. This is not to say that there did not exist any underground manipulations or actions, but that capitalist patriarchy appears to be unable to achieve an effective reaction to solidarity practices unless everything is done as well in broad daylight. The public character was therefore, constituent element of the hijacking process.
The analysis starts from solidarity having become a buzzword, almost a fashionable term during the years 2008 onwards, especially after 2010. Of particular interest is that this buzzword has been used extensively in political discourse to crowd out other discussions that were necessary to have been done within a context of a society like the Greek one. Structurally intertwining inequalities and injustices are endemic and reinforce each other in multiple ways, even within social movements and self-defined alternative spaces. Those injustices were not addressed properly, not even on discourse level, as those were thought that they would be easily resolved through solidarity.
My approach stems from feminist theory in its broad sense, not only because solidarity practices in Greece were a space where women were heavily involved but also because patriarchy is the greater or deeper framework of Greek society and politics. Patriarchy is understood as a political economic system that might have various versions or various expressions in the Greek context, but still remains the main way of articulating society, especially concerning its institutions, politics and resource distribution (Bennholdt et al 1988, Peterson 1997, 2010).
In other words, I place the entire investigation within its historical material conditions as those have been framed through late capitalism that faces important resistances from the people who live in the country but has also achieved important advances against the groups of producers (Sotiropoulou 2014). Solidarity within this capitalist patriarchal context became a discourse and a practice that was needed by various actors and groups in various ways in order to achieve or try to achieve their agendas, whether those have been anti-capitalist or not. Solidarity, therefore, is understood as a contested practice and idea, as an action that has multiple meanings and implications depending on the surrounding practices, ideas and actions (Bayat 2000, Fanon 2007). The contested understanding of solidarity is contrasted with the ahistorical use of the word and with the plasticity with which it seems to fit all discourses that want to comment on the economic conditions of Greece.
To analyse solidarity and how it has been used and abused in Greece lately, I also use post-/de-colonial theories and anti-colonial critique to understand the European project and how it worked within Greek society (Bhabha 2013, Hechter 1975, Peckham 2004). The post-/de-colonial theories permit to investigate the construction of national identity and of the perceptions of “greekness” and “europeanness” that define the political economic context (Carastathis 2014, Bernal 1987). Solidarity could not have been manipulated so effectively if it had not to exist along with deeply ingrained perceptions and behaviours that link Greek politics to European colonialism, racism and white supremacy.
Finally, exactly because nothing happens having as a reason a context alone, I explore the actual choices of Greek governments and political groups, whether formal or grassroots during the last years in Greece, and how those choices led the development of solidarity to one or another direction so far. Understanding solidarity as resistance means that one needs to discuss what is the resistance about and against what, what are its aims and the conditions for any success and how the people involved with solidarity, whether they were acting as truly solidary or they were abusing solidarity as a term and practice, are situated towards the notion of resistance as such.
I am aware that this discussion is not an easy one, especially because what has happened since 2008 onwards concerning solidarity is still an ongoing historical process. I recognise the limitations of my analysis in terms of personal involvement as a researcher and political being. I cannot but recognise that everyone in Greece during the last years has a stance and a personal and collective history towards solidarity, for good or for bad. However, exactly because solidarity has been so much manipulated and abused as a term and practice, there is need to discuss what has happened as soon as possible. Easiness and objectiveness is something that does not exist in social sciences anyway, and it would not exist in discussing social struggles in later capitalism in any case. Postponing this discussion though, “for whenever we will be ready for it” perpetuates the manipulation and systemic violence and makes huge injustice to the people and groups who offer(ed) their work and ideas to establish and practice solidarity without ever selling the term or their own politics out. Solidarity may not have been a panacea but it is still a political principle that all societies and social struggles need to encompass.
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