Power Relations, Balance of Forces

This post will pursue two aims: one, the individual communication has brought us to the conclusion that we should focus much more upon power relations. The development of the EU should be discussed much more in a horizon of debates which go way beyond discussions among governments. Two, the performance of the left Greek government is not a problem of more or less opportunism. The application of the scenario method really only makes sense when it is carried out in connection with possible developments of the relations of forces, starting with the analysis of its current conjuncture. 

„Power relations“ are relations between individual and/or collective agencies. The question will be: Who will why be able to realise their own interests (the visible and perceived ways of protecting and improving one’s own living conditions and one’s place within one’s society)? In which way will be done and achieved, and with which kinds of consequences emerging for whom? The answers to these questions will articulate and will reflect one’s society, with its hierarchies and structures. We regard our society as the sum of individuals in a territory and at the same time as the complex of relations existing between them. These individuals differ in their possibilities and in their practices of exploitation, repression, control and command of and over others, due to their place in the respective society – which is deriving from the ownership of resources for the production and reproduction resp. their ability to appropriate the results of the labour of others without an equivalent, from family relations, from their gender/sex positions, from their place of birth and living, from their ethnic origin, age, disability, religion, world view/philosophy of life. These factors are closely interlinked in contradictory ways and will determine the living condition of the individuals:

– Self-determination and the ability to influence the societal life and development,

– Peace and security, protection from violence,

– Ecology, natural living conditions,

– Housing,

– Mobility,

– Health system,

– Care,

– Education, culture,

– Working conditions,

– Income, consumer sovereignty, guaranteed supply,

– Leisure time.


The specific, concrete quality and development of these living conditions of the individuals will essentially depend on political power relations between and within of the different classes and societal groups. They are contradictorily interlinked with sex/gender, ethnic and cultural hierarchies. Such hierarchies and the societal structure determined by the class and social group divisions will take their specific shapes within territories, overdetermined by the emerging balances of political power and also by natural conditions. These territories are themselves caught in a complex of network of hierarchical subordination deriving from internationalised hierarchies and frim existing political alliances and power structures.

How have these societal hierarchies (with their overdetermination and their interrelations and their contradictory political forms of expressions) developed and changed since the open outbreak of the global financial crisis and the Euro crisis which has followed it? How have the contradictory territorial interrelations and subordination changed which are connected to them? What does it mean for the development of living conditions of individuals and groups, especially among the societally and globally weakest and among the majorities of populations? What does this, finally, mean for the development of the EU and their member states in a globalised world? In what way, degree and intensity may emancipatory resp. solidarity oriented forces effectively influence such developments.

In this connection we want to add something very specific and concrete concerning the current developments in Greece

When Syriza presented its electoral program in Thessaloniki, in the early autumn 2014, three facts became clearly obvious: The program was elaborated and adopted by seriously working people. It was not “more” and not less than a well calculated conception for an exit out of the socially, ecologically and economically destructive development that has been taking place. Its implementation depended on three conditions: 1. the members and friends of the party, as a relevant part of the interested public, do get involved for the program and they do accept the principle of “first the most vulnerable”, to achieve personal and collective political effects by this program and thereby to deal with corruption, nepotism and oligarchy structures. 2. The external conditions do not get worse; the potential consensus to preserve the euro zone in its totality comes into the play and the EU aims at consensus. 3. The Left forces in the European Union are committed to the second condition and therefore they are being mobilized for the cancellation of unjust debts, for German World War 2 reparation payments, and for the realization of common interests.

Of course, some left agents were very active in relation to 3., but not enough. Only in the days before the referendum the left were able to mobilise in a more according way. And after the “OXI” they were not able to do more. In the end, the conditions of 2. have been getting worse and finally were destroyed. For a small country with such an economic and social structure like Greece the alternative “leave or stay in the Eurozone” is only a theoretical one: The country cannot leave.

Published by

Judith Dellheim

Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Referentin Solidarische Ökonomie