Feb 14, 2009

Future Shock, Pt. 1: Greece

The recent article article by Hamerquist, Thinking and Acting in Real Time and a Real World, makes the comment, "The rest of us are going to have to come to grips with a new situation and chart a comprehensive challenge appropriate to the changing conditions – perhaps one written in Greek". That made me decide to post a comrades notes on the Greek rebellions from weeks back to which hamerquist alludes. The comments beloware still relevant - if not more so given recent strikes in France and Britain -to the discussion of "changing conditions" and responses by people. -C. Alexander


I have been trying to follow the growing rebellion in Greece.

These webites have been useful for an updated anti-authoritarian analysis and reporting:





Here are some of my notes. I don't deal at all with what WE should be doing, although that could become a more important discussion. Please forward me your thoughts, ideas, questions, criticisms, etc. feel free to forward these links and notes to anyone else you think might find them useful.

On December 6th police shot and killed 16-year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in the Exarhia Square neighborhood of Athens, Greece. This neighborhood is famous for its status as a hang-out for radicals, immigrants, artists and outsiders. Immediately the neighborhood erupted and confronted the police. The rebellion quickly spread to the Athens suburbs, Thessaloniki (Greece’s gritty second city), Crete and many other parts of Greece.

The main actions in the first days of the rebellion were confrontations with the police, attacks on police stations and capitalist & state symbols, and some looting. The street fighting has been extremely fierce with molotov cocktails and burning cars and buildings. The people in the streets at first were mainly radical youth especially from Greek’s large militant anarchist movement and the radical student movement.

The space created by the confrontation has started to expand the struggle – immigrants from Albania, Romania and Africa have joined in. An occupation movement has begun – several universities and high schools have been occupied, as have a couple of municipal government buildings, and maybe most significantly the headquarters of Greece’s main union federation was occupied by a group of workers in solidarity with the youth in the streets. (Initial attempts by the bureaucrats and their “heavies” to re-take the HQ were thwarted by students marching over to defend the occupation). All of these occupations have begun having open mass assemblies to make decisions about both the specific opposition and the broader struggle. A TV station was briefly occupied and the protestors managed to actually broadcast a 5-min message urging viewers to “stop watching and join us in the streets”. Yesterday, on the Acropolis, one of Greece’s main cultural/tourist symbols giant banners were hung urging the rest of Europe to take up the rebellion. (in fact there has been some embassy/consulate occupations and minor rioting in a few places in other countries in solidarity – the ruling capitalist press has started openly worrying and presumably preparing for the Greek infection to spread.)

The Greek fascists have been active against the growing insurgency. The organization hardcore fascist Golden Dawn, a group allied with the National Alliance in the U.S., has mobilized it’s fighting core to attack rioters and assist police in arrests. They have been seen carrying clubs and knives openly, in groups as large as 50 in formation lines with the riot police. It’s been said that the cop who killed Alexandros came from a fascist sympathizing family and cultural scene and had in fact been a member of Golden Dawn at one time.

The uprising has created a crisis on many levels for the Greek, European, and international ruling class. We all know that the international capitalist system is in a crisis of uncertain magnitude and that the system is incredibly vulnerable to a strong challenge. Early attempts by the PASOK (large mainstream socialist party) to use this to ride back into government are now being seen as insufficient to stem the revolt. Similarly the Greek Communist Party’s efforts at pacifying the movement (physical attempts to end the occupations, calls for “national unity”, etc) have been rebuffed. A general strike previously called was scaled back by the reformist Union leaders in an attempt to shield their membership from the youth in the streets.

Today in Greece there is a national student march.

Going forward it will be interesting to watch for these things:

*To what degree working-class people across age and industry join the movement – this will be key to whether this can become a full on revolutionary challenge.

*To what degree immigrant and Greek workers and youth are able to remain united, and to what degree Greeks are willing to stand-up for the immigrants and against the propaganda that is already being used to divide those in the streets (“students vs. hooligans”)

*To what degree space is opened for challenges to other important aspects of authoritarian rule including gender and sexuality

*To what degree the “occupation/assembly” aspect of the movement spreads, maintains a democratic character, includes workplaces and federates or develops other forms of unity and coordination.

*To what degree the movement spreads across borders – the crisis is international can the insurgent movement become so? Greece is geographically and historically “located” in an interesting position at the borderlands of “Western Europe” within close proximity to Turkey, the Balkans and the Middle East. Could this move beyond Greece, beyond Europe?

*To what degree is the uprising capable of resisting cooptation and containment by the reformist left and trade unions?

*To what degree the fascists continue as active counter-revolutionaries, how effective they are, and how this role is viewed by their international brethren who claim their own “revolutionary” opposition to the system.

*To what degree the Greek police and military will be used against the movement. Greece was under a hated military Junta in the early 70’s and so use of military against the youth could provoke wider layers of support for the insurgency.

*To what degree does the struggle become “armed”? Greece has some history of armed currents on the Left. If the rulers are forced to respond with the hammer, there will be many within the movement anxious to respond/defend by force of arms.