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It is Saturday. It is the day after the large gathering and the day before the referendum. We are trying to escape what overwhelmed us yesterday on Syntagma Square. Early yesterday evening thousands and thousands of people not only came together, but, in fact, converged: people who otherwise live for themselves, in their individual worlds, with their worries and wishes. It was the simple life that gathered its courage to refuse yesterday. Young people, families with children, kissing couples, intellectuals, workers, the unemployed, retirees – a cross section of Greek society, but with a clear point: many came who could be regarded as somewhat poor, as very poor, as maybe not at all “political,” as not being concerned with SYRIZA, but rather with the fact that they don’t want to go on like this: common people. That’s what fascinated us, because a counter-hegemony has emerged with them and through them outside of the established public media, which at the moment – what will be even stranger for our left-wing, German fantasy – is clearly gathering in harmony with a government. The special thing about this crowd was not only their peaceful anger, but also their immediate popularity: the people had converged. Those that gathered saw each other and reassured each other that they aren’t alone, that they are numerous, that they will be seen. The established public media, the private television channels, only make the others visible. The “YES” class in the near-by Olympic Stadium was live on air, and the re-opened state broadcaster ERT could not broadcast for reasons of neutrality. The actual event, besides social media, with these hundreds of thousands of people was only the collective human microphone: “Oxi?” “Oxi!”
That alone would be a lot, but it’s not everything.
A government is appearing on the scene – one that simultaneously governs and demonstrates, one that interrupts the rules of – not only, but especially – Greek politics. Like when Alexis Tsipras is taken away from the Presidential Palace in the form of a demonstration, when the heads of the Syriza party come to square, when grey-haired ministers chant the battle cry of left-wing soccer clubs and shout “Oxi,” when everyone in the crowd beams with they see Alexis Tsipras, when he waves or smiles at them. Those of us from left-wing political movements schooled in the horizontal politics of the square may recoil a bit, but can nonetheless sense that we are becoming infected. Are we experiencing a European variation of Bolivarianism at the moment? Must we remain wary or have we already been converted? We don’t know, but can sense only one thing: Yesterday’s event on Syntagma Square in the heart of Athens, the week of Oxi, and the fight of the not-yet-defeated Syriza government is perhaps the largest thing that the left in Western Europe has experienced since Portugal 1974. Tomorrow is the day of the referendum, and it won’t be the last one…
“Who are you?” Said the Caterpillar.
Alice replied, “I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”
“Explain yourself,” said the Caterpillar.
“I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir,” said Alice, “because I’m not myself, you see.”
(Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll)