Greek thread: out of the labyrinth

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Mark.
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Feb 14 2012 00:35

From Occupied London

A summary of anti-austerity demonstrations of 12/02/2012

Quote:
There are various estimations about the number of the people concentrated on the streets and squares of the country. Athens had anything over 500,000 people on the streets, it is not easy to estimate it, but before the attack of the police every street leading to Syntagma and the square were packed, with thousands more coming from the neighbourhoods on foot or by buses and trains. Half an hour before the demo one could see the metro stations and the bus stops full of people waiting to get on a vehicle that would bring them to the centre. Every city saw rallies and mass marches, with Heraclion of Crete, a city that holds a record in the recent wave of suicides, having a 30,000-strong march. Demonstrations all around the country turned violent, with people destroying banks or occupying governmental buildings, e.g. in Volos the branch of Eurobank, the Inland Revenue Offices and the town hall were torched or in Corfu people attacked to the offices of their region’s MPs, trashing them, the town hall of Rhodes was occupied during the demo and still is occupied, to mention but a few of such actions.

Police did several preemptive arrests in the morning hours before the start of the demonstration. Several activists were attacked by police officers in plain clothes and were detained as soon as they came out of their houses, while it was obvious since very early that police wanted to keep people away from the parliament. In there the new austerity package (an over 600-page document that was given to the MPs 24 hours in advance with the advice to vote for it before Monday morning when the stock markets will open) was being “discussed”. Early afternoon when the occupiers of Law School tried to march from the School to Syntagma the police attacked to them breaking the block, while they attempted to raid the School several times during the night, using also rubber bullets. Well before the arrival of most demonstrators who were still on their way, the police attacked en masse the crowd in Syntagma Square using physical violence, chemical gases and shock grenades. After the attack a big part of the demonstration was concentrated on Amalias st, Fillelinon st, Ermou st, Mitropoleos st and Karagiorgi Servias st. People battled with police for over 5 hours in their effort to return to Syntagma. Other people erected big barricades across Korai sq. on both Stadiou st and Panepistimiou st. and fought trying to reach Syntagma or defend themselves from police attacks. On Panepistimiou st. police concentrated much of its forces on the barricade in front of Athens University and people clashed head to head defending their barricade. DELTA motorcycle police raided several times the crowd, esp. in Mitropoleos street, MAT riot police did the same several times but also things went the other way around. Besides the barricades and the substantial groupings of people, demonstrators broke in various smaller groups that clashed with small groups of police or walked around searching for a barricade or to join a larger group.

After midnight the majority of the parliamentarians (199) voted for the new austerity memorandum that -among other measures- includes the drop of salaries by 22% and drops the minimum salary at about 400 Euro per month, while unemployment rate has been doubled (over 20% in Nov 2011) within 16 months.

74 demonstrators were arrested and over 50 people injured by the police were hospitalised, the number of detainees remains unknown.

Several banks, governmental buildings and two police departments (Acropolis and Exarchia depts.) were attacked by demonstrators during the night, while Athens city hall was occupied, but police concentrated forces invaded the building and arrested the occupiers. Over 40 buildings were burnt in Athens, while occupations of public buildings still are holding all around Greece. The Law School occupation issued a statement in early morning of 13/02/2012: “It was decided by the assembly of the Law School occupation that the occupation continues. We call everyone on the streets to continue the struggle. Nothing ended, everything now starts, the Law School is a centre of the struggle and as such it will remain”.

-----

Teacher Dude reports from Thessaloniki

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no.25
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Feb 14 2012 01:33
KriegPhilosophy wrote:
Greece has a tendency to restore my revolutionary vigor.

The austerity measures are horrible in themselves, but I can't help but feel joy every time I see the Greek working class taking it to the streets after getting fucked over for so long. Those who assert that the Greeks are just going to resign themselves to accepting these measures and go about business as usual after blowing off some steam are cynics, social revolution arises from extreme antagonisms that exist between the working class and economic/political conditions; the conditions in Greece being almost perfect for its propagation, as if it already hasn't taken place.

If Greece were to ignite revolutionary activity throughout Europe, it would be just outright amazing. A collapse of the EU would definitely have an impact on our economy, and a decline in our conditions beyond the mitigation of capital would radicalize more of the working class, forcing it to shake itself out of its pacifistic complacency, especially amongst the liberal elements who see non-violence as the only justifiable means.

One can dream in a teleological manner, right? My post may across as somewhat naive, but frankly, I don't give a shit. Hope is what keeps me sane in a world of madness, and the inspiration of the working class taking action against the ruling class is what gives me hope.

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Feb 14 2012 02:37

Let's stop wishing and start actually doing. Greece is such a great opportunity to start autonomous collectives and Free free markets that reading about the turmoil makes me hard with envy.

While I don't know of anything "on the ground" I have a huge feeling that anarchists are conspicuously inactive. Hell there should be black blocs defending those protesters, and there's just enough militant people out there to confront the police and actually win

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ElusiveElla
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Feb 14 2012 03:35
Mark. wrote:
bartleby1977 wrote:
Demetra Kotouza ... sees the wider Greek struggles as mired in swamp of resignation and despair rather than a revolutionary situation.

I think she's probably right about this.

Absolutely but despairity can inverse quickly and turn into a revolutionary situation. The Paris Commune is a perfect example of this.

The anti authoritarian revolutionary left in Greece needs to take advantage of this and try to inverse it. I'm not sure how they would go about it but it's definitely possible.

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Feb 14 2012 04:34
Ambrose wrote:
While I don't know of anything "on the ground" I have a huge feeling that anarchists are conspicuously inactive. Hell there should be black blocs defending those protesters, and there's just enough militant people out there to confront the police and actually win

I get the opposite impression: that anarchists are doing all they can, sometimes to the point of getting themselves locked up or even killed for nothing. Anarchists are never going to be in a positions to defend protests or whatever, we are only ever going to be in a position to tell/help/facilitate people to defend themselves.

Edit: after all, if a political faction (like 'the anarchists') can make sure an action happens by regulating and supervising it, then from our point of view it shouldn't happen at all, and should be subverted by any means available.

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no.25
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Feb 14 2012 07:09
Ambrose wrote:
Let's stop wishing and start actually doing. Greece is such a great opportunity to start autonomous collectives and Free free markets that reading about the turmoil makes me hard with envy.

While I don't know of anything "on the ground" I have a huge feeling that anarchists are conspicuously inactive. Hell there should be black blocs defending those protesters, and there's just enough militant people out there to confront the police and actually win

There's nothing we can do for proletarians other than what the most active anarchists are already doing within organized labor, which tends to subsume them into its activities. The working class will violently revolt when it's in their material interests to do so, and until these interests begin to emerge, agitators amongst the majority of proletarians are going to be perceived as extremists isolated from the sentiments of the 'nation.' Been there, done that, and those that are most afflicted by the class division and state oppression are more receptive to revolutionary concepts, i.e. 'lumpen-proletariat,' who have been revolting against their own conditions for quite some time. If anything, there needs to be more solidarity fostered amongst the segments of the working class, but this may only be possible on a macro-level when its interests begin to intersect.

Unless the entire class is comprised of anarchists and Ultra-Left Marxists, revolution is going to be a long drawn out process that is dependent upon the economic and historical conditions peculiar to its locality. Capital's ideological hegemony has been thoroughly entrenched into the minds of a significant portion of the working class in most developed nations, which impedes the inception of this process. Fucking AFL-CIO.

I'm not saying that revolutionary agitation or organizing within the working class is futile, because it certainly is not, in consideration of what's taken place over the past couple years; but for revolution to actually manifest itself, there is going to have to be a period of near unbearable conditions, which should of course be fought against, precipitating the overthrow of class society when it can no longer concede reform, such as in Greece.

We can build collectives, community centers, and dual-power, but in the wider context, we are not the revolution. We need the means of production, more than we need permaculture communism. Maybe I'll catch hell for this post, but I'm not sweating it.

Harrison
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Feb 14 2012 11:57

Updates, things are sitll kicking off.

bullets from police gun found near Athens law school
http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2012/02/14/bullets-from-police-guns-were-found-in-front-of-the-law-school/

http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2012/02/13/more-marches-on-1322012-in-patras-and-agrinio-calls-for-marching-tomorrow-as-well/

Occupied London wrote:
More marches on 13/2/2012 in Aigaleo, Patras and Agrinio calls for marching tomorrow as well
In Aigaleo of Athens a march was formed in early hours of 13/02/12, starting at about 01:00, as soon as it was announced that the new austerity measures were voted by the parliament.

Patras and Agrinio saw follow up marches on 13/2/2012. These turned violent. In Agrinio banks and the local offices of the far-right LAOS were trashed. In Patras demonstrators invaded and trashed the offices of the local PASOK MP Spiliopoulos who voted for the new austerity measures. Before they invaded the luxurious hotel Astir where the right wing party ND (part of the governmental coalition) had organised an event. They called for a new demo tomorrow in Patras. In Komotini the building of the Regional Government of Thrace and Eastern Macedonia has been occupied, the assembly decided for march tomorrow.

Meanwhile new videos of police attacking and trying to disperse demonstrators on 13/02 in Thessalonki were released: th
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ulgStViF5lU

Harrison
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Feb 15 2012 00:22

school students kick off
http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2012/02/14/over-500-school-students-are-marching-in-crete

Quote:
Over 500 students are marching now in Heracleon of Crete hurling stones to the police and banks. They tried to invade the building of the local government and the town hall. 4 high schools in the city are occupied. More as they come.
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Ambrose
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Feb 15 2012 00:32
RedEd wrote:

Edit: after all, if a political faction (like 'the anarchists') can make sure an action happens by regulating and supervising it, then from our point of view it shouldn't happen at all, and should be subverted by any means available.

Haha I agree completely! Platformism = fail. Perhaps my views are skewed by my choice of media sources. Which is simply RawStory.

And I agree with no.25 as well, to the T in fact.

Mark.
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Feb 15 2012 12:49

video from http://prezatv.blogspot.com/2012/02/video_15.html

Quote:
Two persons threatening to jump off a window right now in #Greece because the government following troika orders wants to abolish #OEK.

The persons that threaten to commit suicide work at #OEK & will permanently loose their jobs, probably also their house if they have a loan.

http://twitter.com/#!/thesspirit

Quote:
A man and a woman are threatening to  jump from the building of OEK (Institution of Labour Homing). The parents of a disabled child are desperate because the OEK will close down, living employees without job and income.

http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2012/02/15/whats-up-in-greece-on-feb-1512/

Quote:
While dozens of demonstrators from Sunday’s demo still detained in police cells and more than 30 town halls and local government buildings are occupied by protesters, desperation continues.

2 workers of the Organisation for Council Estates (OEK), are at the moment on the roof of the Organisation’s building and are threatening to jump on the ground. The Organisation is scheduled to close down and all employees to be made redundant, since no council estates are going to be built. The building is occupied by its workers for several days now.

Greece used to be the country of EU with the lowest suicide rate, it has been doubled since the government got the IMF/EU/ECB loan. More news as they come.

http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2012/02/15/employees-of-the-organisation-of-council-estates-are-threatening-to-commit-suicide-jumbing-from-the-organisatins-balcony/

Edit: from the Athens News

Quote:
A woman, facing unemployment because the state agency she works for is being shut down, is threatening to kill herself by jumping off the second floor of the building.
 
Earlier in the morning, she and her husband, who works for the same agency, the Workers' Housing Organisation (OEK), climbed out onto the balcony and said they would jump.
 
The fire brigade, police and a special negotiator arrvied at the OEK building, located at the corner of Patison and 60 Solomou St, shortly afterwards and persuaded the man not to jump.
 
They are still trying to convince the woman to come in from the balcony.
 
The OEK is one of the many state agencies listed for closure under the new troika memorandum. Its officers have been under occupation by employees since Monday.
Mark.
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Feb 15 2012 20:20

Paul Mason on Newsnight: Riots as Greeks signal they have had enough austerity

http://twitter.com/#!/paulmasonnews

-----

Telegraph: Greek economy spirals down as EU forces final catharsis

Guardian: Eurozone crisis live

Mark.
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Feb 15 2012 23:26

Front page of The Workers, the newspaper brought out by striking employees at Eleftherotypia, which has filed for bankruptcy

Athens News wrote:
The publication of a newspaper today by the striking employees of Eleftherotypia, which has filed for bankruptcy, captured attention.
 
The paper was entitled The Workers, and the headline read “Breakdown of the political system and the social fabric”. The issue featured an interview with filmmaker Costa-Gavras, who is quoted as saying “The banks rule”.
 
Eleftherotypia over the last two years had been the most antimemorandum Athens daily. The owner had charged that two banks, for political reasons, denied the newspaper the loans it needed to survive.

http://www.athensnews.gr/portal/1/53307

Edited to add:

Socialist Worker has this from Eleftherotypia workers’ committee member Moissis Litsis

Quote:
We have been on strike since 22 December, and we haven’t been paid since last August. That is not unusual. Many industries leave workers unpaid. The law here is that companies near bankruptcy can stop paying workers the money they owe them.

Eleftherotypia is the second largest newspaper in Greece, and it has a radical reputation. But now its workers are set to launch our own newspaper, called The Workers in Eleftherotypia, on Wednesday.

This is part of a new wave of radicalism in the workers’ movement in Greece. We have seen many ups and downs in the movement, but now people know they need to go further.

At first workers here at Eleftherotypia were very hesitant to strike, partly because we are a left wing paper with a “different” kind of boss. But we were left unpaid and facing massive layoffs. We face a court decision on Wednesday over the future of the newspaper. Maybe we will be sold to creditors.

Since we went on strike, people have wanted a strike paper. People called it a utopian idea, but now we will make a newspaper not just for workers here but for the whole of society.

It will be produced by our 800-strong workforce. We will start with a 50,000 print run. Our usual print run is a maximum of 30,000. We want to publish our ideas. But we also need to make earnings, to try to help our strike fund.

That’s why the owner of the newspaper wants to open a new front in the war against us. He has tried cutting off our access to facilities in the office. We are not formally in occupation, but we have access to our offices and printers. And the unions are giving us money to help with the printing, so we can use a different printer if we can’t use Eleftherotypia’s. Readers have a strong connection to Eleftherotypia. They read about the opposition to the troika here. It’s time to take our newspaper into workers’ hands.

In Greece it sometimes feels like we are at war. People are without work, being fed at soup kitchens, without any security. I hope we see our strike movement continue. We need more to prevent the measures being enforced through parliament. People are very angry. There is no section of the ordinary population left unaffected by this, in either public or private sector. Even small business owners are desperate.

And without being paid for so long, we are relying on savings and money from our families and friends. This helps, but we have many desperate people.

People in Greece are encouraged to act individualistically, like in most places. But this crisis has drawn people together. People now realise that we are all in the same boat. The establishment tried to scare people—what if we are forced out of Europe, they ask. But people are not afraid any more. They have nothing to lose.

The Spanish paper Diagonal has an interview with Moissis Litsis, machine translation here.

Report in Spanish: http://www.alasbarricadas.org/noticias/node/19701

Edit2:

Quote:
An Athens court Wednesday postponed until March 7 a decision on whether Eleftherotypia should be granted protection from its creditors under Greece’s bankruptcy laws.

The indebted newspaper has been given temporary protection but this does not extend to its employees, who have not been paid for several months.

Eleftherotypia journalists published an issue of the newspaper Wednesday but under the title “The Workers” (Oi ergazomenoi). The edition was on sale for 1 euro, with some of the revenues going toward the unpaid employees.

http://ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_1_15/02/2012_428133

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soc
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Feb 15 2012 14:47
Guardian wrote:
1.35pm: According to Reuters, Germany, Finland and the Netherlands are leading the push to delay Greece's bailout until April [see 1.18pm], even though the country must repay €14.5bn of maturing debt in March.

Their plan is for Greece to finalise its debt negotiation deal with its creditors (the Private Sector Involvement), which will trim €100bn off its debt pile. That would provide the resources to deal with March's debt repayment.

Of course, private creditors might be less willing to take a haircut on their bonds if Europe hasn't stumped up its portion of the deal. In that instance, the whole package would have to be rolled over to April – and the rest of the eurozone might pick up the bill in March.

Reuters explained:

This would mean we have to pay the €14.5bn on March 20, which would be a total waste," said the euro zone source, who took part in discussions among deputy heads of euro zone finance ministries on Tuesday.

This is just plain funny. Now that these politicians saw that their influence in Greece could vanish due to the possibility of a non-EU-conform government (I guess it's about the LAOS and the KKE), they actually blackmailing the Greek citizens directly: "We will fuck you up if you don't vote for the appropriate parties." There's no rival of capitalist politics in terms of stupidity.

Mark.
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Feb 15 2012 21:26

FT: More on leaked Greek debt deal documents

FT: Bailout 1.3 (maybe)

Quote:
So here, apparently, is the new plan: 1) hold the Greek electorate directly to account (elect a government on a pro-austerity mandate or we blow you up), 2) then pay-off the bond holders (the PSI involves E30bn of sweeteners for private creditors), and 3) refuse to release further aid until there is clear evidence that the reform timetable is kept.

It looks more and more like the bailout is unravelling which leaves the question of what actually happens if Greece defaults.

-----

The Mail picked up on the OEK suicide threat story:

Quote:
Lambrousi Harikleia said she would commit suicide from the second floor of the Labour Housing Organisation building which has been earmarked for closure.

The suicide threat came after Greece's Public Order Minister Christos Papoutsis had warned: 'Greece has made all the efforts that it needed to do, and the people cannot take any more.'

Local media reported that she was eventually led away to safety. But it seems unlikely the eurozone is going to have the same happy ending as today it took another step toward implosion.

Mark.
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Feb 15 2012 23:31

I just watched Newsnight and the first half was about the possibility (or probability?) of a Greek default and the likely consequences (on iplayer tomorrow).

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Entdinglichung
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Feb 16 2012 11:30

http://greekleftreview.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/an-absolute-refusal/

Quote:
1. The 12th February demonstration in Athens, consolidated, what is becoming clearer in the past weeks: a growing majority of the Greek people support the refusal of the memorandum no.2 no matter what. In spite of the fear mongering spread by the pro-memorandum forces that a negative parliamentary vote would entail an immediate euro exit and the ensuing Africanisation of Greece, the popular support for the new EU-ECB-IMF loans and the correlated austerity measures is waning significantly. The formal political debate is increasingly based on a politics of fear: the government’s and mainstream media’s principal argumentation is stripped, on the one hand, to the bare threat of what a disorderly Greek bankruptcy would entail -invoking often assumed similarities with Greece’s plight during the World War II occupation by German and Italian troops- with basic food and medicine shortages and a lack of basic public amenities like gas, heating, electricity; on the other hand even mainstream media cannot but be critical vis-à-vis the most dismantling provisions of the memorandum no.2 for any sign of consensual legitimacy, such as the automatic decrease by 22% of minimum wages, the content and scope of collective bargaining and so on, insisting however ‘in the final analysis’ that the dilemma posed leaves only one choice.

In the current conditions, the growing impoverishment of the wider population and the collapse of state welfare structures makes this line of argumentation less and less effective. In the everyday lived experience of the wider population the spectre of destitution and the destruction of universal public services and amenities is embodied as a direct result of the austerity policies. The massive refusal of the memorandum no.2 tends thus to becoming absolute: it is consolidated beyond and besides any types of rationalisations of existing or future formal policies and calls for new beginnings that the government and financial interests can articulate. In the coming critical period, the site of openness in the political sphere relates to the struggles over what forms this absolute refusal might take and what type of political actions can be constructed around it.

The social composition of the massive absolute refusal of the memorandum no. 2 crosses existing societal divisions and categorisations and reflects its informal and fluid character. The demonstrations in Greece include more and more actors with different social backgrounds, different political aspirations, and different desires for mostly non-representable futures. Apart from the material outcomes that successive austerity plans produce, mainly the violent downgrading of large parts of the late middle class, a strife against injustice is drowning by numbers the whole society regardless previous political affiliations. In addition, demonstrations in Greece more and more seem to escalate, precisely when they are less organised and when they are not called by formal political organisations. Although, a 3 day call for action (February 10 to 12) was set against the parliamentary vote of the memorandum no.2, during the first two days that coincided with a 48 hour strike supported by all the trade unions, the turnout was unexpectedly low, the protests pursued the usual tactic of marching towards the parliament grouped largely in political blocs and ended relatively quickly. On Sunday, February 12, when there was no strike, no precise formal call for action and no foreseen march itinerary at all the participation in the protest became unprecedented. Everyone just knew that from afternoon onwards people should go to Syntagma square, outside the Parliament. Most of the participants just walked from different parts of the city joining the demonstrations in small groups of friends, at random with people they met on their way to Syntagma, in neighbourhood associations, in neighbourhood assemblies that have been formed the past 6 months throughout Greece. There was no starting point of the ‘demonstration’, but only destination. People were trying to reach Syntagma many hours after the demonstration was supposed to have started, most were intermittently leaving the tear-gased areas to catch their breath and returning after a while. Even some political groups that managed to form a few blocs of demonstrators near the parliament dissolved soon after the first rounds of teargas were fired by the police as early as 5pm.

The only political group that retained its cohesive character and tactics during the course of February 12 was the Greek Communist Party (KKE), whose activists remained largely outside of the geographical scope of the demonstration, on the outskirts of central Athens trying to avoid any mingling with the rest.

3. The police tactics during the 12th February demonstration, were primarily aiming to deface the mediamatic image of this consolidated mass refusal of the memorandum no. 2 by evacuating the square ‘by any means necessary’. It was as if the whole crackdown of the demonstration unfolded around interrupting a panoramic visual representation of the mass of demonstrators and of course avoid any unpredicted shortcomings that could hinder the parliamentary procedure. Therefore, the principal concern of the Greek police was to prevent the demonstrators from gathering in one unified body of people tear-gassing massively all areas around Syntagma square, even before the beginning of the protest. As a result of this tactic, a large -quite possibly the largest- number of demonstrators never managed to reach Syntagma square and wandered around side streets, engaging in street battles against the police or trying to avoid them. This prevention of the emergence of a centralised mediamatic image depicting the mass refusal of the memorandum no.2 was quasi-celebrated by mainstream media and the government precisely as it enabled them to avoid to visually represent, address, or respond to the mass character of the demonstration. At the same time, however, it expressed their apprehension: the realisation that their usual formal reaction to these types of political conditions is becoming null, that they can no longer appeal to a supposed silent majority supporting them and so on.

The widespread rioting during the night of 12th February was also a result of this police tactic. The difficulties faced by police forces in dispersing the demonstrators as far away as possible from Syntagma square, when their primary desire was to return there every time they were pushed back. The dispersion of rioting in the wider city centre of Athens in the 12th of February is also related to the radicalisation of wider groups of demonstrators and the unexpected participation of certain social groups experienced in street battles against the police. In an unprecedented action, for instance, the principal football fan clubs in Greece, along with youngsters from other clubs, joined the 12th February demonstrations in a united fashion, setting aside club differences.

4. Through the absolute refusal of the memorandum no.2, an impossible situation is emerging for formal Greek parliamentary politics, particularly for governmental politics. The formal political solution: parliamentary elections cannot be easily pursued by the government coalition, even if the conservative partner in the coalition (Nea Dimokratia) insists on asking elections ‘just after the state of emergency’ is overcome. This because the result of these elections will probably make it impossible to put in place a pro-memorandum government, regardless of what type of electoral system will be chosen. The movement of absolute refusal will tend, in this way, to push Greek formal politics to or even beyond their limit.

This movement of absolute refusal is emerging out of the exceptional material circumstances of crisis contagion and catastrophe. But the most fearful for parliamentary politics development-factor that emerges as a mute – therefore unpredictable – monster is that catastrophe can be pursued, produced and imposed by a frenzy multitude that feels it has nothing to lose apart from the joy of destruction. Although, similarities and connections to the December 2008 revolt might seem evident, there is no necessarily linear or evolutionary process that connects the two, apart from the cumulative experience that has moved everyone a step towards radicalisation in thought and in practice. It is true that this growing radicalisation of more and more larger segments of Greek society hasn’t produced in these past 3 years any permanent democratic structures for organising or for articulating political struggles. The critical political question, however, might not necessarily be how to create these structures in the Greek context, but how to immediately transpose them in their fitting European setting, to think on how will this movement spread like contagion from one country to the next, from one urban context to another. In other words, how this absolute refusal will be internationalised in a continent that already lives its future through the lenses of a fist of experimental animals.

Mark.
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Feb 16 2012 11:57

http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk/2012/02/workers-control-in-greece-eleftherotypias-workers-are-back-with-their-own-newspaper/

Moisis Litsis wrote:
From Wednesday, Feb. 15th, kiosks all over the country are displaying one more newspaper next to the usual ones, a newspaper written by its own workers. This is a newspaper which not only aims at bringing the fight of Eleftherotypia’s workers to the fore, but also seeks to be a newspaper giving real information, especially at such critical times for Greece.

The 800 men and women workers at the firm H.K. Tegopoulos, which edits the Eleftherotypia newspaper, from journalists to technician staff, from cleaners to clerks and caretakers, have gone on continuous strike since 2011, Dec. 22th as their employer stopped paying their salaries in August 2011

Eleftherotypia workers, seeing that their employer has requested application of section nr. 99 of the Bankruptcy Act, in order to protect himself against his creditors, i.e. in reality his workers to whom he owes a total of approximately 7 million euro in unpaid salaries (!) have decided to have their own newspaper published, at the same time as continuing mobilisations and taking legal action. A newspaper distributed by news agencies all over the country, at the price of 1 euro (against the usual 1.30 euro for the other newspapers), in order to provide financial support to the strike fund.

As they haven’t been paid for the last seven months, the female and male workers at Eleftherotypia are being subsided by a solidarity movement from various collectivities or even isolated citizens who donate money or make donations in kind (foodstuffs, blankets, etc.). By publishing their own newspaper and thanks to the money collected through its sales, they will be able to support their strike financially without any kind of mediation. In other words, they are making progress towards some kind of self-management.

The newspaper has been produced in a friendly workshop, in an ambiance that is reminiscent of clandestine newspaper editing, since the management, as soon as they found out that the journalists were going ahead with their publishing enterprise, first cut off the heating, then the system used by the sub-editors to write their articles, and last, shut down the workshop itself, even though access to the newspaper’s offices still remains free for the time being. Worker’s Eleftherotypia was printed at printing works that do not belong to the company, with the support of the press workers’ unions, because the staff of its own printing works felt reluctant to occupy their work place.

The management, afraid of the possible impact of the self-managed publication of the newspaper, have threatened to take legal action; they are using intimidation by threatening to fire the editorial committee who were democratically elected by the general meeting of strikers.

However, Greek public opinion, and not only Eleftherotypia readers, had been eagerly waiting for its publication – we were overwhelmed by messages cheering the journalists for publishing the newspaper themselves – since dictatorship of the markets is coupled with media dictatorship that makes Greek reality difficult to read and interpret. Had it not been for the general consensus that was maintained by most media in 2010, based on the argument that there was no alternative to Papandreou government signing the first Memorandum, whose patent failure has now been acknowledged by everyone, we might have seen the Greek people rising up much earlier in order to overturn a policy that has proven disastrous for all Europe.

The case of Eletherotypia is not unique. Tens of private sector enterprises have long ceased paying their employees, and their stockholder have virtually abandoned them waiting for better times… In the press, the situation is even worse. Because of the crisis, the banks have stopped lending to companies while employers refuse to pay for it out of their pockets and choose to call on section 99 – at least 100 listed on the stock exchange companies have already done so – trying to save time in view of a possible bankruptcy of Greece and a probable exit of the euro zone.

Eleftherotypia was created in 1975 as “its sub-editors’ newspaper” during the period of radicalization that followed the fall of dictatorship in 1974. Today, in times marked by the new “dictatorship of international creditors”, Eleftherotypia’s women and men workers have the ambition to become the bright example of a totally different way of information, resisting against “terror” from the employers as well as the press lords, who would not like at all to see workers take in their hands the fate of information.

.
[Moisis Litsis is an economic editor, a member of the Editorial Committee of “Worker’s Eleftherotypia”, and a substitute member of the Board of Directors of the Greek Press Workers’ Union (ESIEA).]

Mark.
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Feb 16 2012 12:10

Democracy in Greece...

Bailout, PSI hang in the balance (Athens News)

Quote:
[...]
However, reports from Brussels suggested that eurozone hardliners at the teleconference had insisted that Athens must ensure that the austerity measures attached to the new bailout will be implemented in full regardless of the results of elections.
 
According to some reports, these proposals would imply that, either the elections should be indefinitely postponed or certain key economic ministries should be held by "permanent technocratic ministers" along the lines of the Monti government in Italy, appointed and supervised by the troika of Greece's creditors.
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Entdinglichung
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Feb 16 2012 15:51

Opinion polls:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_legislative_election,_2012#Opinion_polls

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subprole
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Feb 16 2012 15:20
Quote:
From Wednesday, Feb. 15th, kiosks all over the country are displaying one more newspaper next to the usual ones, a newspaper written by its own workers. This is a newspaper which not only aims at bringing the fight of Eleftherotypia’s workers to the fore, but also seeks to be a newspaper giving real information, especially at such critical times for Greece.

well, does anybody know if the content has changed? in case they are continuing writing the same shit in a self-managed way - elefterotypia is considered to be a pro-p.a.s.o.k newspaper - the closure of this publication seems rather a good thing.

kissthesystem
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Feb 16 2012 18:43

its tricky, i mean if the trojka dont get what they want and greece defaults, will even more people lose their jobs?

Mark.
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Feb 17 2012 12:15
subprole wrote:
well, does anybody know if the content has changed? in case they are continuing writing the same shit in a self-managed way - elefterotypia is considered to be a pro-p.a.s.o.k newspaper - the closure of this publication seems rather a good thing.

I always thought Eleftherotypia was the best Greek daily, though it's the best part of 20 years since I've lived in Greece and I can't really speak for how it's been more recently. As I remember it seemed pretty independent of PASOK, unlike, say, Ta Nea. The alabarricadas report compares it to the Spanish daily Público which seems a fair comparison to me. In any case it employed 800 people. Do you think it's a good thing that they're losing their jobs?

Edit: There's a translation of the Diagonal interview with Moisis Litsis here

Mark.
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Feb 17 2012 12:03
Quote:
Far-right thug with an axe becomes new minister of infrastructure, transport and networks
Quote:

The photograph above depicts the newly appointed minister of infrastructure, transport and networks in Greece, Makis Voridis. Voridis is member of the far-right, populist party LAOS which participates in the government of ‘national unity’ with four members. Voridis was the same person pictured above, in 1985, holding a hand-made axe and forming part of a group of thugs roaming around Exarcheia in Athens, in search of people demonstrating against police operations taking place in the neighbourhood at the time.

Photo from jungle report.

Makis Voridis has now joined New Democracy after voting for the memorandum and being expelled from LAOS.

Quote:
Two former deputies of Popular Orthodox Rally (Laos) have joined the ranks of New Democracy, marking a shift of the latter to the right.
 
Makis Voridis and Adonis Georgiadis arrived early on Friday at the ND headquarters and met with the party’s leader, Antonis Samaras, to seal their “transfer”.
[…]
Up to last November, when Laos joined the interim government of Lucas Papademos, Voridis and Georgiadis served as the party’s parliamentary spokesman and secretary general, respectively.
 
They quit their party positions when they became ministers: Voridis as transport, infrastructure and networks minister and Georgiadis as deputy minister for development, competitiveness and shipping.
 
On February 10, after Karatzaferis announced his intention of voting against the new memorandum and withdrawing the four Laos ministers from the government, Georgiadis quit his ministerial post, while Voridis remained.
 
Voridis, 48, is a lawyer and former leader of the far-right Hellenic Front party. In 2005 he joined Laos and was elected an MP for the first time in the 2007 general election.
 
Even though he has quit his seat, Voridis will remain as transport minister.
[…]

http://www.athensnews.gr/portal/8/53401

Mark.
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Feb 17 2012 13:18

School children take on the riot police in Syntagma with help from Loukanikos: video

Quote:
Greek police now arresting school children in central Athens after demo earlier this morning

For those joining the TL now: schoolchildren's demo in #Syntagma #Greece assaulted by riot cops who teargas, arrest & handcuff minors.

@tinathem aptly points out that the schoolchildren in #Syntagma pose a serious threat to democracy. They're armed w/ bitter oranges.

Scuffles and rocks. Maybe 60 students, at least as many police in square. Another arrest (older, not student).

http://twitter.com/#!/teacherdude

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Feb 17 2012 16:21

BBC: Paul Mason, Struggling Greeks losing belief in the state

Quote:
[...]
I have been reporting the Greek crisis now for two years, intermittently on the ground, and it looks like something changed, tangibly, in the past 10 days.

The established parties lost belief in what the EU is forcing them to do; parts of the EU lost belief in it too; and the people - quite wide layers of society - lost belief in the political class.

I cannot emphasise enough the role of policing and the media in this.

The streets of Athens on Sunday night were filled by protesters, tear gas and fires On the ground, Sunday's demonstration felt massive. It was never allowed to assemble in one place but even the PAME contingent, where I stood on Stadiou Street, looked maybe 50-70,000 strong.

The organisers claimed 250,000 had tried to assemble. The police claimed 4,500. The media reported 15,000. Both of the latter figures were a joke.

What was no joke were the clashes between police and the hardline protesters - drawn from the anarchist black bloc, the fringes of the far left and in increasing numbers from right-wing, football-supporting groups on the fringes of LAOS and the fascist group Chrissi Avgi. Time and again, on the grounds of confronting the rioters, police made incursions into large masses of peaceful protesters.

This is hardly spoken of by Greek ministers and the EU doesn't seem to want to comment on it. But I can tell you from repeated experience, it feels like a process of collective punishment of a peaceful majority.

I think this week caught Greece on the proverbial brink of something. The anger could easily solidify into anti-German sentiment, but with the conservatives and Orthodox right implicated in the first bailout, anger can more easily flow to the left.

It may be of course that I am overestimating the dangers. But here is another problem of perception: in the three hours I spent at or close to the front of the rioting on Sunday night, I did not see a single other television crew. Ours was repeatedly harassed, verbally and physically, most harshly by a small group of right wingers who accused us of being German.

At the start of the demo I saw one other (foreign) TV crew and that was it. Parts of the Greek broadcast media have long since given up telling the story of the streets; for most of them it is too dangerous, such is the popular hostility to a media many believe is in the pocket of a corrupt political class.

That is sad, but here's the wider problem this creates. If you are Schauble, Rehn, Merkel, Lagarde, you are increasingly flying blind in this crisis. The Greek papers, heavily politically aligned, can only partially reflect what is happening. The Greek politicians you talk to spend their nights shuttered behind grilles in anonymous offices - they cannot appear in public, they cannot get a feel of the streets.

The Greek politicians in power cannot deliver the country they run to an austerity package they do not believe in. And after the election, power is likely to be even more fragmented.

Just as the combined might of the IMF and the Greek government is pulling economic levers that do not work, the more insidious problem is that they are pulling political strings that are broken.

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ocelot
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Feb 17 2012 17:07

Meanwhile back in Germany...

Quote:
FT: Berlin split on Greek bail-out

A split has emerged in the German government over whether to grant Greece a second bail-out package with Wolfgang Schäuble, finance minister, pushing to let Athens default while Chancellor Angela Merkel is firmly against, according to German and eurozone officials.

Mr Schäuble was said to have come to his hardline view in the light of haggling over Greece’s fresh austerity measures under a second rescue programme and the refusal of some Greek politicians to promise to back the deal after elections due in April.
[...]
The split between Mr Schäuble and Ms Merkel appears to be one reason for the delays in negotiating a second Greek rescue package.
[...]

So Schäuble is calling for Greek elections in April to be cancelled and the current technocrat-led coalition of politicians (ND, LAOS, PASOK) to be replaced by a fully unelected technocrat dictatorship. The estimation is that Merkel will win the battle with Schäuble by Monday's eurogroup meeting which is supposed to announce the go-ahead for the second 130m bail-out. However if Schäuble makes enough fuss, that may encourage CDU politicians in Germany to break the whip in the 27th Feb vote in the Bundestag which is supposed to rubber-stamp the bail-out.

But that's only one side to the "deal". The other is the "voluntary" restructuring (write-down) of 50-60% of existing Greek debt by private bondholders. However, this part is being called into question by the fact that the ECB is trying to avoid any writedowns on its holdings. Now UBS have opined that this effectively suborns the privately held debt relative to the ECB held stuff, which violates the "voluntary" nature of the restructuring, such that if the Greek government enforces the deal on the private holders via the Collective Action Clauses (CACs - that force minority bondholders to accept the deal if the majority have) under those conditions, that could trigger Credit Default Swap payouts - the very thing that the whole negotiated restructuring process is supposed to avoid.

(See Bloomberg: ECB Plan to Shield Its Greek Bonds May Subordinate Some Holders, UBS Says & Bloomberg: Germany Sees Deal Within Days, Aims to Avoid Swap Delay)

The other thing is that currently, the agreed restructuring needs to take place before the Euro bailout can be paid out.

Summary: despite the current flurry of positive briefing, there is a good number of possibilities of this situation going tits-up and tumbling into a car-crash default, even without the fact that Paul Mason has pointed out above - i.e. that the Greek politicians and state can't actually deliver shit at the moment.

Mark.
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Feb 17 2012 23:44

Paul Mason had a long report on Newsnight just now, on iplayer from sometime tomorrow. Also a shorter Radio 4 report here which I think is available outside the UK.

Mark.
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Feb 18 2012 00:31

John Holloway: Greece shows us how to protest against a failed system

Mark.
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Feb 18 2012 00:44

From Occupied London

Quote:
This is the 8th day of the occupation of the building of prefectural administration in Chania, Creta, Greece. We just translated our main text in english and we send it to you, to inform and spread the message of the occupations worldwide. There is also a french translation available.

We also have a blog and internet radio, live from the occupation. Today at 18:00 (greek time) we have organized a march in the main streets and the neighbourhoods of Chania. In Creta there are also occupied buildings in Rethimno and Lasithi. Moreover, the students are occupying their schools day by day. There at least 11 schools occupied in Chania today.

Our text follows:

Quote:
Announcement of the Occupied Prefectural Administration of Chania

We are also part of the struggling people that rushed into the streets for the 48hour strike demonstrations and the massive protest of Sunday 12Feb against the devaluation of our employment and the pauperization of our lives. Since Friday 10Feb, after the march in the city streets, we have occupied the building of Prefecture of Crete in Chania. The occupation serves as a meeting and coordination centre of a collective effort to organize the struggle for a life that is characterized by solidarity, resistance and dignity. By blocking the ordinary function of a central administrational building, we pose political pressure against the implementation of the recent decisions of the foreign and local exploiters. We are referring to the voting by the Greek parliament of the second Memorandum and the new austerity measures according to the commands of Troika (EU, IMF, ECB) and global Capitalism.

We salute the hundreds of thousands demonstrators that during the last few days, and especially on Sunday 12Feb, fight against barbarism and the plundering of the basic social goods such as health, education, electricity and water.

We are a part of dozens of occupied state administrative, educational and labour buildings that spread across the country the last few days. Against a spirit of struggle decline and defeatism after the voting of the new laws by the parliament, we continue to fight against the fake dilemmas they impose, such as “bankruptcy or consent”. We call the grassroots labour unions of Chania to take decisions towards a Long-term General Strike. We call all the citizens of Chania and the countryside, students, workers and unemployed, immigrants and locals, to join our ideas, agonies and creativity.

To defend the dignity in our employment and in our life.

No prosecution to the detainees of the strike demonstrations.

Solidarity – Victory to the long-lasting strike of the Greek Steelworkers and all labour struggles.

All ahead towards a Long-term General Strike.

We call all people daily to participate in the public open assembly at 20:00 in the Occupied Prefectural Administration of Chania and in the actions that are decided. The last few days hundreds of people participate in the decisions of our assemblies.

bastarx
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Feb 18 2012 02:02

Why did I read the comments on that article? So much fail.