Saturday, December 13, 2008


A declaration from Greece resistance, opposition, uprising stands alone:

"We Are in a Civil War.."

Here is some TV footage of Greece's recent General Strike, something, for any reason whatsoever, we NEVER see in the US:
(Note: There might be a few seconds of commercial preceding the strike footage):

And, then, last but not least, I am simply going to reprint a rather lengthy excerpt from someone else's blog and I will link to their post following the excerpt:

A society in denial (personal rant)
"To kick off with a necessary disclaimer, I haven't turned into a political analyst overnight. To the contrary, my knowledge of political theory is very limited & either too bookish or too cartoonish, plus I always seem to not comprehend &/or leave out some important details. If you choose to read what follows, then, do not take anything for granted - do your own research & form your own opinions, don't take it from me. (More importantly: instead of reading the entire ranting below, read the translations I point out in it, those articles are really insightful.)Those in need of overviews & summary reports on what has been going down
can find a couple here, here, & elsewhere (follow links around). Most of these are compiled by people not in greece at the moment, which means that they're not eyewitness accounts of events but rather compilations of such accounts, political analyses, & what have you. There are certain things that have become clear - & not to me only - in the last couple of days; in my view, they can be summarized along the lines of "a representative segment of the youth is revolting; the state & the mass media remain in denial."For one thing, the state-sponsored myth that the unrest is due to the "usual familiar unknowns" & to the "special circumstances" prevailing in the Exarchia quarter has collapsed with a loud bang: K. Raptis did an outstanding job there, in an article penned in Sunday (!) already (seek a translation below; the original is here). (As an occasional reader of greek newspapers, I can certify that this level of clarity of thinking - & of honesty - is not a commonplace occurrence in greek journalistic circles.) The same is true of S. Kouloglou's analysis early Tuesday morning (seek a translation below; original here) - both correctly, I believe, identified this as the tip of an iceberg: concealed beneath the surface, real, very-very real anger was fueling the first reactions. Further, it was clear from the beginning that the revolt did not even only specifically concern anarchists or leftists or what you want to call them; this is another (also state- & mass media-sponsored) myth which simply holds no water. In fact, it did not even concern these groups to a larger extent than other groups of citizens, despite the sentimentally charged central place Exarchia assumed in the story: the police station attacks carried out exclusively by school students (particularly the Sunday attack in Thessaloniki), the 5,000 people demonstrating in Patra yesterday against the outrage of the local police working side by side with neonazis (neonazis! honestly, can you wrap your head around this?), the reports concerning elderly citizens hurling lemons at the Riot Squad or of an old man in crutches standing face to face with the Riot Squad or of somebody in suit-&-tie trying to reclaim a 15-year-old from the police force's grip, all these testify that the common people feel an ignominy at the way their own state treats them that has little to do with political affiliations (or the absence thereof). The fact that anarchists & leftists got involved into this may well be because these people understand solidarity (& often have a heart) as well as they understand police brutality & repression. Were even more members of PASOK (the center party in greece) not remorseless strategists or scared-shitless-middle-class-members (depending on their position in the party), they could have participated equally well in the demonstrations, as this murder affects them as much as anybody else.The government, instead, has been trying - up to this very moment - to blame all of this on one or another conspiracy theory: from minister of the interior P. Pavlopoulos' statement "image is one thing & reality is another" (had he replaced 'reality' by 'content,' he could at least have applied for the Most Misguided Situationist Quotation Award) to K. Karamanlis' statements about (unnamed) political forces which stir up trouble (correct; such as his own party's murderers, members of the Kalampokas team - seek below for the background -, which were reportedly spotted in Patras back in action). & my personal favorite: P. Pavlopoulos claiming - on Monday evening! - that the government has made the city safe; a reporter asking, not bothering or not managing to hide the disdain in his voice, how is it possible that he claims such a thing at a moment when the President of the Republic has to spend the night in the presidential building because it's not safe for him to be transported back home; P. Pavlopoulos' answer: I claim that the city is safe because it is safe. This is not only about the obvious tautology; even his first sentence is flawed, as if the issue were the fucking government! The center is getting looted & this jerk can only think of his government! Bush Jr. got shit about the now infamous photo of him looking down on New Orleans from his jet plane in the wake of the Katrina disaster; can you imagine even him coming out & defending his government without a word about what that government has actually done or is going to do to relieve those affected?What's basically so interesting about this whole situation, were you to sit back & think about it idly (& from a certain, comfortable in its shoes, middle-class perspective), is exactly the aforementioned ignominy: a 15-year-old gets shot, people take to the streets - immediate result: people get beaten up brutally. (Recall the SKAI radio correspondent who went berzerk on Sunday, as he watched multiple men of the Riot Squad beating up, instead of arresting, a 15-year-old in the center of Athens; recall his words: "They've learned nothing! Nothing!") People flood the streets again; not only do they get beaten up again, the police decides to collaborate with the shadow state (yes, the neonazis!) & the mass media decide to call the latter "infuriated citizens" - as if this were the '50s & the '60s all over! Additionally: cops take out their guns & point them at demonstrators, while yet other cops shoot in the air - one dead boy is clearly not enough (yes, they HAVE learned nothing!). The district attorney who, apparently, plans to absolve those responsible for the "claypot incident" (search for it below), suggests that the special guards be allowed to walk free. On Monday evening, the government sends a clear message to the looters that no crackdown is scheduled for before Tuesday noon - immediate result: that same evening, the city center is looted to an extent that makes people think of Los Angeles in '92. Also, there's a whole shitload of pictures out there of "hooded ones" embedded in the police force (yes, I do believe that these are the same hoods that smashed things up in the city center; do you have a better explanation? Does the police have a better explanation? If it is, what is it?) & still more mind-boggling stuff, such as: the minister of the interior is all smiles off camera (or at least when he thinks he's off camera). & even more: on the night of the murder, the minister of educational affairs S. Stylianidis (who, in my view, is perfectly unfit for any post related to educational affairs) enjoys an evening out (heavy duty, too: in a club with live music); the next day, he attends a football match.& this still remains the tip of the iceberg. Recall that, in the last year & a half only, the people living in the country have gone through:(a) forest fires, who left .... acres of charred forests & about 100 people dead;(b) the revelation that minister of culture (ha!) G. Voulgarakis became a millionaire overnight (actually, in the last 4 years);(c) the same minister's reply to a newscaster's question (loosely amounting to "granted that what you did was legal; was it also ethical?") that ethical is identical to legal; in a country where I don't recall any minister having even being charged by a court of law with corruption/profiteering, this amounts to ethical is identical to achievable: if you can pull it off, you're doing fine;(d) an immense scandal involving officials (reportedly high in the hierarchy) handing over vast amounts of state property to the church (the same church that refuses to even sum up its possessions - much less reveal them - & is exempt from taxes, although the church functionaries are paid by the greek state);(e) the Siemens scandal, where it was revealed that pretty much everybody with influence, in both ND & PASOK (the two major political parties in greece), was on the take; & as there's no free lunch, Siemens was getting a preferential treatment in state affairs - much like selling tax money short & pocketing the net amount.Finally, as S. Kouloglou & K. Raptis among others pointed out (as even L. Fabius pointed out; see above), all of these affairs (which have monopolized the front pages for weeks on end & thus were highly visible) occurred in a country where people in their '20s are employed (if at all) at a starting salary of as low as 660 euro (Athens is far more expensive than Berlin, for example, & comparable to, maybe, Amsterdam - apart from housing at least). Without social benefits & maybe without vacation - certainly without prospects; often forced to meet their employer halfway & get part of his/her contributions for social security/retirement plan as cash instead. Immediate result? What else: people lodging with their parents until into their 30's; people scared shitless to graduate, as their prospects are nil; people who are dying to get into the civil servant sector, i.e., get on the government's tab (in a country where that particular sector is already overgrown); people who get on that sector as temporary employees & spend years (literally) waiting for their salaries.How, then, could one be surprised that these people revolted? Every single response of the government to the events in the last few days has added insult to injury, much like the humiliation many greeks must feel reading their Sunday paper of choice or turning on their TV & reading/seeing the same people that condemn them to precarity amass immense fortunes by selling short the citizens they have been elected to represent. (I know that this is what made me add 'occasional' to my self-description 'reader of greek newspapers' - that feeling I get of some corrupt, remorseless, insatiable bastard pointing at me through the pages & laughing in my face every time I read about multimillion deals & compare it to emails I receive from friends living in greece.)Meanwhile, leaders in the rest of Europe apparently turn their heads south to size up the situation. The prime minister K. Karamanlis, who's in Brussels today, has reportedly conferred with his equals regarding the possibility of the riots spreading to the rest of Europe. S. Kouloglou wrote, once again, an excellent article regarding this issue (seek a translation above). Those who gathered to protest in The Hague (&, as I learned yesterday, also in Paris & maybe even elsewhere) had time to observe the reaction of the mass media & decipher what they observed: at least one TV crew in The Hague, at least one interview with a journalist in Paris (regarding the fact that the ambassador did not even deign to meet with the protesters) - net result: zero television time in the first case (& only sporadic, dried-out mentions of the incident in the local newspapers attributing the march solely to greeks; we don't want to plant fancy ideas in the queen's subjects, do we?), no mention of the ambassador incident in the second one. Even worse, the dutch conservative newspaper NRC Handelsblad did publish some articles which were simply revolting - representative sample (last paragraph): " The hooligans [it's a time honored tradition of dutch newspapers to stripping everyone protesting of any ideology by calling them a hooligan] have caused, i the past few days, damages of approximately one billion euro. 3,000 people face losing their jobs, because the stores [where they work] must stop or move. Some fear losing a quarter of their turnover during this month of big celebrations. Meanwile, the same protesters scream about the economy shrinking." A very dutch logic, indeed: work, get paid, live happily, let those who know better take big decisions [the benelux governments bailed out Fortis recently, which cost 11 billion euro; hardly anybody bat an eye]. They left out the distressing fact that people in greece don't quite get paid enough to live happily - greece is not the netherlands: get a clue.Thankfully, some foreign mass media start getting a clue. Previous attempts clearly didn't hit the spot: I'm still laughing with BBC's article; not that it's that bad, but did anyone really believe that the explanation "rebellion is deeply embedded in the Greek psyche" would settle the question once & for all? Sounds good, but fit for a novel, not for a political analysis. Others were performing even more sloppily, reproducing state propaganda (all dutch papers on Monday which made a mention to the riots, for example), focusing on the number of cops wounded (CNN), & of course absolutely everybody interprets absolutely everything in economical terms (this is the modern agenda, after all - economy provides the setting, period). Well, this latter tendency won't leave any reports any time soon, but at least journalists seem to be doing their homework a little bit better, focusing on what lies under the stone-hurling & the massive demos - even in NRC somebody got off their ass & decided to look into the G700 phenomenon (known to the rest of the world as precarity). At the same time, it could be that the mobilization assumes a more (?) strategically sound form, with an announcement from the Polytechnic putting forth political demands (seek a translation below) & TV & radio station occupations; it's hard to tell, & half of the the leftists seems to be rejoicing with the fact that the revolt has had no leaders, while the other half with the fact that a strategy develops (don't forget that the greek movement is rather fragmented).That's it, let's get back to some translations.."

Above text taken from the following:

No comments: