A strike from a distance


It should now be clear to everyone that the south of Europe is going through a unique historical period. Lisbon, Madrid, Rome, and Athens, are now the capital cities of a surprising and uncharted future, brought about by the Union's austerity and the emergent reaction coming from the streets. It wasn't always like this.

When Greece first started to collapse, all the other troubled countries got busy distancing themselves from it, like one runs from a leper, to avoid contagion. The diseased media metaphor proved quite fitting this time, for it did spread, and look at the southern Eurozone now, a colony of colonies, a land of despair and rage where only the fittest survive.

Maybe not.

This November's general strike, felt, celebrated, and fought in all major cities of the South, was perhaps the first appearance of yet another one of history's jestful and unexpected twists. When people in Lisbon decide to schedule a protest in front of the Spanish Embassy, something is happening. When protesters in Madrid sing old Portuguese revolutionary songs, something is up. Who knew? Who would have guessed that one of the possible side-effects of the shock therapy would be a renewed, futuristic, European solidarity?

Identity emerges from many places, not all of them good, but hardship and a shared sense of history are definetely among them. Bonded by the same experiences and brought together by the same struggle, that's exactly what the south of Europe is now getting: a common story. This improbable narrative might just turn out to be the key to the much-debated, and much-awaited, political and cultural future of the Union.