Battle Ground Athens: second general strike leads to pitched battles

demonstrator braving the riot police in a cloud of tear gas

More than 150,000 people took to the streets of Athens against the austerity measures in a mass protest marches that have led to extended battles in the greek capital.

Submitted by taxikipali on March 11, 2010

On Thursday March 11 all Greece came to a 24h standstill as a result of the second general strike to be called within less than a month (not the third as reported by foreign media, as the first strike in February only concerned the public sector). As a result of the strike called by GSEE (private sector union umbrella) and ADEDY (public sector union umbrella) as well as PAME (the Communist Party union umbrella) no buses, trams, metros, trolley buses or suburban trains exited their stations, while due to air-traffic control workers’ strike no flights are being realised within or in and out of the country. Only the electric train will function for 4h in Athens in order to facilitate people’s participation in the mass demo at noon. In the health sector, all hospitals are functioning with emergency personnel only, as all doctors, ambulance drivers and nurses are striking. All banks are closed to the public, and all public and municipal offices and services have been shut by the strike. The Corinth Canal has also been shut by the workers controling it, allowing no ships to make the vital crossing. All boats have been immobilised in the harbours and no inter-city trains are running. Post offices remain closed, while National Electricity, National Waters and National Telecoms workers are taking part in the strike with all offices and factories of the above industries closed for the day. All schools and universities remain also closed as teachers and academics are partcipating in the strike. Office workers, factory workers and contruction workers are also participating en mass in the strike. Firemen and policemen are also performing walk-outs, with a policemen demo at the National Police HQ planned for the afternoon. Due to the participation of the TV, radio, electronic news websites, and the press in the strike, there are no news broadcasts for 24h. Thus the information gathered here will be completed by means of Comments after the end of the General Strike when more information become available. In total more than 3 million people (out of a total population of 11 million) are expected to having taken part in the general strike today.

Background:
The General Strike comes as a new climax to labour struggle against the new austerity measures the greek government has announced in response to its notorious credit crisis. In the days before the General Strike, stage workers have occupied the Ministry of Labour on Peiraeos street, while the continuing occupation of the General State Accountancy by layed-off Olympic Airways workers has caused the intervention of the state persecutor who has demanded their arrest. No such move of repression has been made yet by the police, and Panepistimiou street remains cut in two by the protesters for more than a week now. In Salonica, the General Industrialists Bureau was occupied yesterday by workers, while radicals from the left dropped a huge banner in the Acropolis reading “take the measures back”. Troughout the week, tax officers performed a 48h strike, school traffic wardens in Northern Greece performed a 3-day strike, while judges and other judicial officers performed 4-h work daily stoppages. No garbage has been collected since last Saturday in Athens, Patras and Salonica as refuse collectors have blockaded the great garbage depot of the three major cities. Finally, in the city of Komitini ENKLO textile workers are mounting an ever more intense labour struggle, with protest marches and strikes: two banks were occupied by the workers last Monday.

The Demos:

The first demo in Athens was performed by PAME, the Communist Party union umbrella, just before noon. PAME allied workers first formed small demos across Athens, then marched to Omonoia square and all together in a 50,000 strong march to the Parliament. At the same time, people started gathering at Patision and Alexandras junction for the demo called by GSEE and ADEDY. The demo which soon gathered over 100,000 people set to march to the Parliament at 12:30 when just outside the Polytechnic riot police forces tried to cut-off a large anarchist block from the march by brutal force. Clashes ensued with extended use of tear gas and molotov cocktails. Despite the air being thick with smoke and CS gas, the march continued its way along Patision avenue and on to Stadiou street where many corporate shops came under attack. After reaching the Parliament, the march turned to Panepistimiou street where renewed clashes erupted at the height of Propylea. With the march coming to its final distination, protesters who continued their way to Omonoia where attacked by Delta team motorised forces. The Delta-team thugs tried to hit the protesters in full speed sparking more pitched battles with police squads encircled and beaten by the angry crowd and several Delta-team motorbikes destroyed. At the time of writing, the battles have moved to Exarcheia where protesters have erected flaming baricades and are confronting riot police and Delta force cops by means of rocks and molotov cocktails. Many protesters have sought refuge at the Polytechnic from which they are confronting police forces on both Patision and Stournari street. During the clashes many protesters have been wounded with one reported to be in intensive care with heavy wounds on the chest. The number of people arrested remains unclear but there are about 16 people detained and 13 cops hospitalised.

In Salonica 6 different marches took place by different unions and umbrella unions. Protesters of the Worker’s Centre march, which numbered 7,000 people in total, attacked corporate and church-owned shops on Egnatia avenue, while two super-markets were looted with the commodities distributed to the people. Despite the police firing tear-gas, the march continued and attacked the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace with paint and rocks before reaching the Worker’s Centre.

In Ioannina despite the pouring rain around 1.500 people marched against the measures with no news of clashes. Similar protest marches took place in Sitia, Naxos, Veroia, Patras and other cities. In Heracleion, Crete, shops that did not allow their workers to strike were blockaded and several banks came under attack by protesters. In Volos, protesters blockaded the gates of the METKA factory not allowing security-staff (i.e. scabs) to enter the premises, with many more corporate chain shops that did not allow their workers to strike blockaded and shut by the protesters. The official union-bosses of Volos were forced to leave the march after mass heckling by the workers.

Despite anti-strike war waged by the bourgeois media, amongst which the more bloodthirty ones like Kathimerini is urging the government to crush the protests “even if some protesters die”, the Athens march is estimated to be the largest in 15 years, and has demonstrated the resolve of the working class to fight back against the capitalist onslaught.

Comments

David Jacobs

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by David Jacobs on March 11, 2010

Many thanks for such good, consistent reporting. You are providing an invaluable
service for others who are interested in what is happening in Greece.

taxikipali

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by taxikipali on March 11, 2010

Thanks David! According to all information available 9 people appear to be arrested in Athens during the protest march. They will appear tomorrow before the state interrogator.

tsi

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by tsi on March 11, 2010

I've heard that even some police have joined in the rallies, explicitly as workers, even though they aren't allowed to strike.

Is the class character of the movement in greece becoming clearer and more apparent??

salvoj

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by salvoj on March 11, 2010

I've been following this closely since Dec 08 and first i'd like to thank taxikipali for the updates, your posts never fail to inspire.

I also wondered what people's thoughts on the police joining the strikes was?

It looks to me like they are finally realising where their loyalties should really lie (with the people not the state) but perhaps im just being hopeful?

Samotnaf

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Samotnaf on March 11, 2010

I also wondered what people's thoughts on the police joining the strikes was?

It looks to me like they are finally realising where their loyalties should really lie (with the people not the state) but perhaps im just being hopeful?

Cops often opportunistically seize the time for their own demands which are to be paid better for their reduction to brutally serving their master and ours. ou're not being "hopeful" - you're being admin - removed, no flaming and ideological. Get real.

taxikipali

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by taxikipali on March 11, 2010

Although the class character of the movement against the measures is becoming more clear, I agree with Samotnaf that the policemen who demonstrated or went on strike today are only looking to save privileges agreed between the junta and its civilian inheritors in 1974, such as retirement after 25 years of employment (rather than 35 as everyone else). A common slogan in protest marches these days is "the cops are not the children of the workers, they are the dogs of the bosses". Of course, policemen in Greece are highly syndicalised, and mostly controlled by PASOK. The saddest photo of today's otherwise majestic protests is PAME syndicalists and demonstrating cops applausing each other...

Zanturaeon

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Zanturaeon on March 11, 2010

Yo, whatever. I'd rather cops be striking and out demonstrating where WE are all there, surrounding them and can see them. Never let those suckers lead ideologically, but if they want to tail, let 'em.

They just have to understand that we can't trust them until we've dissolved the police as an institution. They shouldn't have any influence over our activities etc. But I'm happy to hear they're identifying as workers (whether or not that's necessarily correct class-consciousness is up for debate) and marching in the streets rather than helping bust heads. We should encourage ALL police - and military - to strike.

Remember the Internationale, "the soldiers too will take strike action." True, police are way more like mercenaries than soldiers... but whatever. Bring 'em all out on strike, then dissolve the bourgeois government and form a workers' councils government.

taxikipali

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by taxikipali on March 11, 2010

I think the difference between soldiers and the police is vital, at least in greece where the army is in its vast majority staffed by conscription. Cops are mercenaries to the bone and while their syndicalists march, the rank and file continue to break heads regardless. In Greece the riot police and Delta-team especially are the praetorian guard of the regime (and have been called that name by cabinet ministers in the past) and are treated as such by everyone save the Communist Party which is known for its love of authority and has its own force of repression the Communist Youth for the Restoration of Order (KNAT) to match the bourgeois Units for the Restoration of Order (MAT). Some of us remember fondly the two units cooperating efficiently in the late 1990s against anarchist protesters...

Submitted by tsi on March 11, 2010

while their syndicalists march, the rank and file continue to break heads regardless

This illustrates why their participation in the strike is best characterized as "opportunistic" as you have pointed out.

But surely at some point in the future we have to organize or encourage defection in both the military (which is more important) and the police. The prospect of all out war to the last vs the ruling class' hired thugs is not a pretty picture.

salvoj

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by salvoj on March 11, 2010

you're being stupid and ideological. Get real.

There are actually people naive enough to join police forces in the hope that they can make the world a better place, who i would hope, in times like this, would realise that they're on the wrong side, but thanks for the input...

the policemen who demonstrated or went on strike today are only looking to save privileges agreed between the junta and its civilian inheritors in 1974

I wasn't aware of the cops reasons for striking, though i have to agree with Zanturaeon to an extent, however selfish there reasons, them striking is better than them working surely?

bootsy

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bootsy on March 11, 2010

I think the reasoning behind the police strike action is crucial. If the police are simply tailing the workers struggle in order to make some economic gains then that should be outright rejected. The working class shouldn't be struggling to improve the conditions of the very people paid to repress their protests. On the other hand if the strike action is being taken for political reasons, that is a rejection by rank and file officers of their role within the bourgeois state then that should be considered a significant victory for all those advocating a broader movement against the very existence of the state and capitalism. From what taxikipali has said it sounds like the former is the case.
chimples said:

though i have to agree with Zanturaeon to an extent, however selfish there reasons, them striking is better than them working surely?

I disagree, if the workers allow the police to become a part of their struggle without any criticism of the police force as an institution then it can become much easier for the state to peddle nationalistic 'we're all in this together' rhetoric. Also like I said, the protesters should not be supporting the economic demands of the very organization which is violently repressing their voices.

salvoj

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by salvoj on March 11, 2010

Could it not be viewed as a divide and conquer kind of situation though? Striking policemen weakens the position of the state. Granted that they're not really part of the struggle but two seperate institutions would be easier to overcome than one.

lamb

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by lamb on March 12, 2010

I think the reasoning behind the police strike action is crucial. If the police are simply tailing the workers struggle in order to make some economic gains then that should be outright rejected. The working class shouldn't be struggling to improve the conditions of the very people paid to repress their protests. On the other hand if the strike action is being taken for political reasons, that is a rejection by rank and file officers of their role within the bourgeois state then that should be considered a significant victory for all those advocating a broader movement against the very existence of the state and capitalism. From what taxikipali has said it sounds like the former is the case.

This is right on I'd say. I could only see it happening positively on a human level. A cop or some military personnel realizes his life is a contradiction and joins the revolution. Fine. The "police" as an entity supporting, or the "officer" as such joining, no.

Great update, btw.

David Jacobs

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by David Jacobs on March 12, 2010

A question for Taxipali or anyone on the scene in Greece: Do Thursday's events
represent a new stage of the movement there, a widening of the circle as it were?
Or was it a series of dramatic, but fairly restricted (in terms of numbers of participants) skirmishes? And a larger question, to which there is obviously no
easy answer: how do people in Greece see the movement building and being
able to be sustained from here?

Thanks in advance for any answers you are able to give.

Zanturaeon

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Zanturaeon on March 12, 2010

Taxikipali, Tsi, Raskolnarchy, Chimples, Lamb, thanks for the response and clarifications. I really agree with Raskolnarchy. The police question has been something that has been difficult for me.

Actually the whole bureaucratic caste question has always been unclear and confusing to me. This helped. :)

tsi

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by tsi on March 12, 2010

Taxikipali: fantastic coverage as always! :rb:

Samotnaf

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Samotnaf on March 12, 2010

Agree with Raskolnarchy about cops.

Chimples:

There are actually people naive enough to join police forces in the hope that they can make the world a better place, who i would hope, in times like this, would realise that they're on the wrong side,

I once - in 1971 - played in a play in Notting Hill about the cops, which all the actors wrote together, and there was one character we created who represented this "naive" attitude. We showed him up to be as big a hypocrite as anyone who believes that the law is for everyone equally or who believe that law and order are synonymous. Irrc he had a social worker/priestly attitude to being a cop - but then don't Leninists also have this attitude in a political form - representing the idea of doing good on behalf of "the people." (I hate that expression "the people" - chimple said "with the people not the state" - "the people" has been used by demagogues throughout history ; I know this sounds pedantic but, "the people" don't exist - there are masses of proletarianised individuals transofrming the world and themselves, but "the people" is an abstraction).( Btw we weren't payed for doing this play).

Heard a story, not sure if it's true, that during the height of the rioting in Toxteth in 1981 a cop was chased by the rioters and, cornered, he tore off his jacket and screamed a line from 'The Elephant Man' which was playing in the cinemas at the time - "I'm not a monster - I'm a human being". He was still beaten up though: it's easy to verbally assert one's humanity when one has no choice - but at the same time, it's true, cops can stop becoming cops - and in fact, during '81 hundreds if not thousands of cops resigned after the fright they got from the rioters, though that probably didn't prevent many of them re-joining a few years later when the balance of class forces had changed.

Incidentally - why is saying something somebody says is "stupid" considered flaming and therefore has to be censored. I sometimes say stupid things (I know that's hard to believe), and I'd hate it if I felt my friends couldn't tell me I was being stupid. Censorship is far more stupid, but are you going to censor that? And are you going to censor me accusing myself of having said stupid things? That really is stupid.

taxikipali

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by taxikipali on March 12, 2010

Thanks for all the posting here, I am happy that this conversation is triggered by my post! Its a very interesting and important issue indeed! I share Raskolanarchy's position, and believe that in the case of greece, at least at the moment, cops are only opportunistically tailing the labour struggle, with no great success it must be said.

As about David's question, I am inclined to say that Thursday demonstrated a quantitative advancement of the struggle but not a qualitative one. In comparison with last Friday's march in Athens which numbered only 10,000 people, the feeling is that yesterday's demonstrators felt their numbers were enough and lacked the rage of the previous march. Perhaps this is simplistic and we need to think more on it. There is never a linear augmentation of qualitative or quantitative traits in protest marches in Greece. An example is the anti-educational reform struggle of 2006-2007. Then students held a protest march every Thursday for almost a year, and each time the demonstrators attitude was a total surprise, reaching a final and glorious peak at the March 8 2007 clashes in front of the Parliament during the day the reform was being voted. Also the stance of the police each time varies greatly and is always a surprise. Yesterday the police had a very aggressive attitude which was not expected given the deputy PM's declarations that "we will not exercise violence and repression on the protests".

I generally think that we should look closer at the characteristics of the labour struggle's smaller circles to see both how December has changed what to be struggling consists of in greece, and the surfacing of new practices, subjectivities etc. Anyway we have a long hot spring in front of us with all the prospects for a true class recomposition and a social insurrection that could make December pale. This is not just wishful thinking, according to the ever flawed media opinion polls, 86.7% of greeks believe there will be a social rising-up [xesikomos] soon.

MD

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MD on March 12, 2010

Hey taxikipali, thanks for the updates. Are there any signs of people breaking out of their assigned roles during these demonstrations or are everyone pretty much keeping to themselves in their seperate blocks? To be more concrete: when the cops tried to cut off the anarchist block, did people from other blocks join the anarchists and help them force the cops to back off, or did they just ignore them and just kept on walking?

taxikipali

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by taxikipali on March 12, 2010

This is a complex question: for example the protest march of Thursday 4th of March was a case study of people defending their assigned roles with passion...then the Friday 5th of March protest march was a mass demonstration of breaking out of these roles...and yesterday's march was something in-between. Now regarding your concrete question, the situation is complex again: Imagine a street packed so densely with people one can hardly move more than two steps without a thousands sorrys, on a flat street with zero visibility and hundreds of flags and banner flying. Then -without the march having started- you hear tear-gas noises and some sort of smoke and wonder what is going on. I believe that apart from the people directly at the scene that is the general experience of the event on Stournari and Patission junction. In other words, we are not talking of the usual 10,000 marches where one can have a perspective of what is going on elsewhere. Thus, even the 300 anarchists that at the time of the attack were sunning themselves in front of the Archaeological Museum waiting for the march to start could not know let alone intervene in what was happening to some other 300 anarchists 200 metres away, and so on. From photos published we can see that other blocks were in fact engaged in the battle at the particular spot too, but the exact circumstances of what happened are not yet clear. There is unverified information that the attack happened in an effort to block the anarchists at the spot from meeting up with the union-boss Panagopoulos who was a few metres below. If such is the case it adds another drop of shame for GSEE which yesterday plastered huge posters with the faces of people who attacked Panagopoulos last Friday at the demo - a disgraceful snitching technique worthy of nazi collaborators during the occupation.

David Jacobs

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by David Jacobs on March 12, 2010

Thanks, Taxipali, for answering my questions. Good luck with everything, and
we look forward to more reports.

salvoj

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by salvoj on March 12, 2010

I once - in 1971 - played in a play...

I think this is a case of being forced into a role though. The 'naive do-gooders' who join the police would undergo the same psychological transformation as those that took part in the stanford prison experiment (theres a german film called Das Experiment, which is a dramatized and exaggerated version which is brilliant). I agree however, after learning more about the police strikes in greece, that I was way off the mark.

taxikipali

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by taxikipali on March 12, 2010

Update: All of the arrested charged with small breaches of the law have been set free, while the five remaining arrested who are charged with crimes will remain in custody until Monday when they will be presenting their case before the court. At the same time given the Ministry of Finance's offer to negotiate with them, the Olympic Airways layed-off workers have evacuated the General State Accountancy after 9 days of occupation. As a result, Panepistimiou street has been given back to traffic. ADEDY has called a new protest march for Tuesday afternoon, while National Electric Company workers have announced a 48h strike starting on Monday. For news regarding the assassination of the anarchist Lambros Foundas during a gun-battle with the police, see the relevant post.

Steven.

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on March 12, 2010

this post is here, for reference:
http://libcom.org/news/anarchist-killed-greek-police-11032010

taxikipali

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by taxikipali on March 13, 2010

I am reproducing here a communique by ARSI, the left-wing doctor's union, as it provides an interesting perspective on the police attack and the role of GSEE before the beginning of the march:

TERRORISM SHALL NOT PASS!
Worried by the impressive massiveness of today's strike demo and march in Athens, the government has taken recourse to the known recipe of raw authoritarianism and police-rule. The riot police forces (MAT) tried to cut the march immediately in front of the block of hospital doctors, using raw violence and launching "chemical warfare" by means of tear-gas and suffocating gases! The response of the MAT officer in charge to the protests of the demonstrators was "the GSEE president Mr Panagopoulos asked us to cut the march so that he can pass (!!!)". The decisiveness of the demonstrators -with hospital doctors at their head- imposed the "opening" of the MAT chains and the continuation of the march. IF THEY THINK THAT STATE AUTHORITARIANISM WILL SCARE ANYONE THEY ARE PLUNGED IN UTTER DARKNESS! THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES AND IS GETTING EVER STRONGER! DOWN WITH THE GOVERNMENT-EU-CAPITAL POLICY, DOWN WITH THE STABILTY PLAN, FREE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL THE PEOPLE. From tomorrow we start new assemblies in hospitals and from Monday withdrawal of labour and strikes.

taxikipali

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by taxikipali on March 13, 2010

Update: During an event organised by the Ministry of Education teachers invaded the conference room while the Minister of Education was speaking. The teachers unfolded a big banner against the measures and chanted slogans against the regime. When a plain clothed policeman tried to stop them, the teachers surrounded the man, disarmed him and beat him, with the man crawling on the floor towards the exit. The teachers then continued to chant slogans against the Minister. Meanwhile a protest march against the measures took place today in the Athens suburb of Chalandri. It must be stressed that news published in the Guardian of a EU bailout of Greece have been declined as rubbish by Angela Merkel today.

lanolin

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by lanolin on March 14, 2010

Thank you taxikipali for your continually excellent coverage.

I have a question for you. Personally, as I know you can't speak for different neighborhoods or communities in Greece, how do you feel about anti-authoritarians from all over the world moving to Exarchia, Thessaloniki, or other conflictual parts of Greece? Has this happened much? Do you see it as a potential boost of energy or a burden on things like housing and food?

With so few arrests for such a massive strike/conflict, it seems like a safer place for some people to fight for their dreams than in other countries with far stiffer penalties for resisting police.

Edit: Thank you Jweidner, I certainly meant no disrespect. To clarify, I was referring specifically to the threat of getting caught and spending years in prison for participating in demos or being tied to years of legal support and fund raising for friends in that unfortunate situation. I may be entirely wrong about legal leniency in Greece. My assumptions about legal risks in Greece are based on english language coverage I've read since 2008 that often covers clashes but not the aftermath.

jesuithitsquad

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by jesuithitsquad on March 14, 2010

lanolin

it seems like a safer place for some people to fight for their dreams than in other countries

I'm sure you mean no disrespect, but 'safer' is not really an appropriate word to use. Here are just a few examples:
http://libcom.org/news/anarchist-killed-greek-police-11032010
http://libcom.org/news/brutal-repression-protest-march-athens-27022010
http://libcom.org/news/antiracist-demo-attacked-fascists-athens-23012010
http://libcom.org/news/torture-under-acropolis-03012010
http://libcom.org/news/riots-police-brutality-first-day-alexandros-grigoropoulos-murder-anniversary-06122009
http://libcom.org/news/bosses-attack-militant-cleaners-syndicalist-vitriolic-acid-athens-protest-march-occupation-

taxikipali

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by taxikipali on March 14, 2010

Thank you jesuithitsquad, your list of posts covers my answer.

Samotnaf

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Samotnaf on March 14, 2010

Amazing report about the teachers disarming and beating up the plain clothes cop, taxikipali. I couldn't imagine teachers here in France giving such a good education to the world, since they seem particularly imbued with the moronic ideology of citizenship and human rights - often they collaborate with the cops in undermining high school students' blockades of "their" schools, disciplining and even sometimes helping to expel, the main initiators ofhigh school actions - but, who knows, maybe instead of the usual "we teach all hearts to freeze and all minds to narrow" (graffiti on a school in the 1970s), teachers here will also start to learn from their equivalents in Greece, and start to teach the cops a lesson or two.

If things develop further in Greece (which they'll have to do if the working class there isn't going to be crushed and turn against itself ) there are at least two questions that are going to have to be answered practically:

1. What can be done to undermine the dominant society's attempts at preventing Greece from having a radicalising influence on other parts of the world? (e.g. subverting the way Greece is treated as purely a special case - or attacking the nationalist sentiments expressed by some of those involved in the anti-government demonstrations).
2. What divisions amongst the Greek working class will be exploited by the Greek rulers ? (no ideology of "the people" or even "the proletariat" - no "2-class" 'theory' can help understand and go beyond the differences and inequalities of misery that exist: revolutionary movements can only advance by recognising that workers and other proletarians experience both the same misery of the attacks of this society as well as very different miseries.
This is very general and fairly abstract, but they're questions that have to be asked and answered more concretely, in looking at the examples of solidarity as well as the examples of how solidarity is undermined, sometimes from within (eg the question of whether people are breaking out of their roles which MD posed above). For instance, the fairly recent anti-fascist attacks on the ridiculous 300 or so fascists demonstrating against the legalisation of certain immigrants' status ignored (as far as I can see) the fact that this legalisation of immigrants' status was selective (and therefore divisive) and that it was a way of taming the fury of the mainly young immigrants who participated in the December 2008 movement and its aftermath (if I've got this wrong, I apologise - but that's how it seems to me).

chimples:

I think this is a case of being forced into a role though. The 'naive do-gooders' who join the police would undergo the same psychological transformation as those that took part in the stanford prison experiment

Though this is a bit of a distraction from the main point of this discussion - about Greece - it still needs to be answered. Aside from the fact that projecting such psychological experments onto real life situations is artificial (- e.g. the 'guards' weren't getting 20 times more money than the prisoners; and anybody could - and did - drop out of the experiment when they wanted to -) this ideology of 'being forced into a role' implies that they do it against their will: any 'naive do-gooder' with an ounce of integrity would have to drop out of the police force within a few days if they were to refuse to perform their function of defending bourgeois property and all the implications which flow from defending it. There was an English village cop in the early 70s who refused to arrest anybody - obviously he got the sack after a time (in that case, i think , a year or so). But this was the very early 70s when the Dixon fo Dpck Green avuncular ideology of helping little old ladies across the street still enticed enough 'naive do-gooders' into a structure and culture which within minutes of joining should have made them realise that Dixon had nothing to do with reality. In sweet English villages, where the cops knew everybody personally, such an illusion could be maintained for a longer period of time than in the cities, where the brutality of cops was lived by the working class, particularly the black working class, on a day to day level. You seem, however, to be excusing this "being forced into a role", as if the essence of becoming a cop wasn't choosing to 'become' the role. To push it further, we could say that politicians are only being forced into a role. How far do you want to justify or excuse these types of work ?(this excusing attitude is what I gathered from what you said, but maybe you didn't express yourself clearly). People are what they choose to do within the alienated environment which isn't chosen. The role is them, to a more or less greater extent:social pressures don't let you off the hook. There are millions who choose not to become cops; the pressure of unemployment might force them into the army, but even then there are loads who choose not to die or kill for their bosses. But being a cop is worse than becoming a soldier, however self-destructive the attitude of many soldiers is when defending the ideology of their bosses. A cop is part of the enemy within - the State outside your window, on your street corner, at the other end of your phone.

rooieravotr

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rooieravotr on March 14, 2010

There seems to me to be another reason, besides the safety issue already addressed, for anti-authoritarians NOT all moving to Exacrhia or other Greek neighbourhoods. We are needed in the places where we live, and where we know the situation. Suppose something big happens in the country where I live, and most of the liberarian revolutionaries would not be able to participate because we all have moved to Greece? And suppose the Greek revolt goes forward to insurrection - wouldn't a Greek revolution need international solidarity and suport in all those countries which pressurize Greek authorities against the population? Revolutionaries are needed then, as they are needed now - in the countries where they live. Of course, traveling there, participating, and coming back again strenghend by the experience can contribute to this (once I was in Genua, and I don't regret it). But the main struggle is still the struggle at home.

iaourti iaourtaki

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by iaourti iaourtaki on March 14, 2010

@samotnaf
I think here is something that might be interesting for you
http://linksunten.indymedia.org/en/node/17753
scroll down pl and you will find a flier spread in athens
and another one from 5th
scroll again
http://linksunten.indymedia.org/en/node/17617/unfold/all
if you want you can translate there into french...
cheers

taxikipali

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by taxikipali on March 14, 2010

Good point rooiervotr! Surely participating in the events in Greece can be a precious experience (if one takes care not to make it a riot tourist trip), but in so far as these experiences are filtered, discussed and critically applied in other contexts.

@samotnaf, your first questions has been on my mind too; it seems the bourgeois press abroad is doing all in its power to marginalise the labour struggle here as pointless, retro, or exotic. I think we need a good dose of counterinformation spreading to begin with to counteract the effects of this reactionary tactic which can be so effective precisely because nobody can read greek and thus depends on foreign reports exclusively. Regading your second question, the division already tried to be used is the one between public and private workers. However even hostile opinion polls of the last days indicate this is not working: more than 50% of people have replied that they are ready to take to the streets against the measures, with another 20% considering it. Given that the public sector workers is hardly 25% of the population, this shows a failure of applying public-private division. Another division employed is talk about proletarian aristocracy, which is more effective but has little application as most of the readily recognised sectors included there have already been privatised and have not been hit by the measures.

The patriotic card is the most dangerous one of course, based as it is on long-standing anti-imperialist populism of PASOK. Years ago autonomous groups had put forward a position that anti-imperialism is the glue of national unity and petty-bourgeois identity in greece, and the point was not very far off the mark. One of the main slogans of the autonomous here is "national unity is a trap, the proletarians do not have a motherland". One must keep in mind of course that as LAOS the populist extreme right-wing party is the only one to have sided with the government on the measures, the already feeble effect of the extreme-right in the labour movement has been annihilated. All the talk of both PASOK and LAOS of sacrifices for the motherland are creating a climate of devaluation of patriotic discourse in general. If anything the populist tendency is more likely to result in an identification of PASOK+LAOS with imperialism than to portray the government as defending greece from the west. In that case (where patriotism survives and is turned against PASOK and the exreme-right) the ones to capitalise is of course primarily KKE and then the Radical Left Coalition. The anarchist agenda is of course to destroy any desire for saving the motherland and any populist anti-imperialist discourse by replacing it by class politics aptly represented in the slogan "My left-wing boss treats me like shit, and then claims its the Americans' fault".

iaourti iaourtaki

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by iaourti iaourtaki on March 14, 2010

and this one's stolen away from taxikipali, translated into german:
http://linksunten.indymedia.org/de/node/17520

for the "international brigades" there is somethere a greek a.b.c. parody but i couldn't find that baq

taxikipali

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by taxikipali on March 14, 2010

Thanks comrades for the translations! A video of the teacher's beating the plain-clothed cop and interrupting the Minister of Education's speach (she is the woman trying to speak in the last frame of the video) can be seen here, enjoy! http://www.alfavita.gr/ank_b/ank13_3_10_0531.php

lanolin

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by lanolin on March 14, 2010

deleted

from_gr

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by from_gr on March 15, 2010

lanolin said:
"To clarify, I was referring specifically to the threat of getting caught and spending years in prison for participating in demos or being tied to years of legal support and fund raising for friends in that unfortunate situation."

There are many anarchists in prison for years and also there are many people that have been caught, have spent some time in prison for participation in the social movement and are under restriction condition for years, most times without any or only with fabricated clues, not to mention the high possibility of being severely wounded in the police stations after arrest, and the possibility of assasination by the greek police. Legal support is usually given by layers that are in the movement and money is not gathered by friends or family, but almost always it is gathered by collectives, solidarity concerts-happenings and other ways. The rare times that this is impossible (see: Resalto case) solidarity is asked publicly.

shamass

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by shamass on March 15, 2010

Hey taxikipali, in three separate reports in the bourgeois press (selected at random) on the March 11 general strike:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/12/2843780.htm
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/11/greece-nationwide-strike-austerity-plan
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/12/world/europe/12greece.html?scp=8&sq=greece&st=cse
the figure of 20,000 is given for the number of marchers in Athens. I presume the figure is supplied by the Greek state/police force. The Trots at the World Socialist Website give a figure of 30,000:
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/mar2010/gree-m12.shtml
Am I correct about the source of the figure, or is there another reason for it? And how did you get the 150,000 figure?
My main reason for bringing this up is similar to Samotnaf and your point about "counterinformation." The general strike attracted little notice in the bourgeois press here in Australia, and so it seems the world. The discrepancy in the numbers is more indicative of the general attempt to falsify or simply bury news about the developing situation in Greece. How we proceed with the counterinformation is the question.
And thanks for all of your writing. Great stuff.

taxikipali

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by taxikipali on March 15, 2010

The police line on the march of Thursday is 20,000 - but given there was a press and media strike there is no consistent photo-document to prove or disprove this arbitrary number. The 150,000 mentioned in the original post included the simultaneous PAME demo of 50,000 people. The other 100,000 are the GSEE+ADEDY demo whose head was in Syntagma square when its tail had just passed the Polytechneio - given the extreme density of the crowd a simple square meter calculation has resulted in the estimation of 90-100,000 people. Here most media avoid giving a number, while the Trots claim it to be 80,000. Its really impossible to be certain, but the consensus is that it was the largest demo in the country since the demo against the "Yannitsi" labour reform (which had over 100,000) in the late 1990s.

Update: National Electricity Company (DEH) workers have occupied the Unemployed Office Headquarters in Athens, as well as the Company's Hqs in Ptolemaida and Megalopolis. The workers are starting a 48h strike tomorrow which threatens to plunge great parts of the country in darkness. At the same time, the County Hq of Imathia have been occupied by ENKLO textile workers, while in a surprise move farmers have taken out their tractors and blocked the Corinth-Tripoli national highway. At the same time, doctors at the central hospital of Larissa have gone on a 24h strike, while nurses have called for a country-wide 24h strike tomorrow that will effect all hospitals. Gas stations have also called for a 24h strike for Thursday, while ADEDY and the teachers' union OLME have called a protest march for tomorrow in Athens.

taxikipali

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by taxikipali on March 15, 2010

Update: All of the remaining arrested demonstrators of Thursday have been released apart from a man in his early 20s who has been imprisoned pending his trial. The man who figures in many pictures being dragged by the hair by cops during his arrest is being charged with molotov cocktail throwing although it is obvious that he is neither wearing a mask nor is there any smoke or flames around him at the point of the arrest. After the imprisonment was announced clashes ensued between protesters gathered in the Athens courts and two riot police squads. Two people have been injured during the clashes.

In other news, ENKLO textile workers have also moved to occupy the central National Bank of Greece and the central Bank of Greece in the city of Komotini. Textile workers of the ELITE industries are expected to march in Athens tomorrow.

salvoj

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by salvoj on March 15, 2010

@ Samotnaf

I think the stanford experiment does have a lot of relevance here though, considering that not everybody did drop out of the experiment shows that not everyone with 'an ounce of integrity' would drop out, unless that random selection consisted solely of bastards... Its also important to remember that those that dropped out were prisoners, not guards.

any 'naive do-gooder' with an ounce of integrity would have to drop out of the police force within a few days

This is your definition of what constitutes integrity, a lot of people agree with the ideas of property and authority etc.

You seem, however, to be excusing this "being forced into a role", as if the essence of becoming a cop wasn't choosing to 'become' the role. To push it further, we could say that politicians are only being forced into a role.

I guess coerced is better here than forced. By this i meant that someone with good intentions would take a conscious decision to become a cop and then over time forced/coerced into the role of an authoritarian. Not that people would be forced into the job. Also, I think this is actually more relevant to politicians, I think most people, if not all, get into politics with good intentions, but the more successful and powerful they become, the more corrupt they'd become, not because its their nature but because that's the nature of power.

Now i don't think this is a reason to excuse people from what they've done, and if i gave that impression then I didn't mean to, but i think it is still important to remember for situations like Greece, where people, like cops etc, may change their views. Your initial response to my op was pretty much one of 'once a cop always a cop' and i think that's a pretty negative, if understandable, view to have.

Samotnaf

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Samotnaf on March 17, 2010

chimples:

someone with good intentions would take a conscious decision to become a cop and then over time forced/coerced into the role of an authoritarian. Not that people would be forced into the job. Also, I think this is actually more relevant to politicians, I think most people, if not all, get into politics with good intentions, but the more successful and powerful they become, the more corrupt they'd become, not because its their nature but because that's the nature of power.

This is ridiculous (I would say 'stupid' but apparently this word is considered 'flaming' by the oh so clever petty bureaucratic mentality of the libcom ethics committee).

"Good intentions"? The road to hell is paved with them, as you should know. If you judge people by their explicit intentions you're really naive - even a 12 year old would be cynica enought to avoid doing that nowadays. When I hear the words "I want to do good", I reach for my revolver. "Doing good" is already a form of authority role - to really 'do-good' has little to do with the kind of work you pursue.The only 'good intentions' are the intentions to confront your misery, to confront the powers within and without that repress your desires, needs and point of view. And this can't be done through the alienated activity of work - keep your wage labour separate from your radical "intentions" and you begin to make sense (I teach English to adults - sometimes I do things that have a 'radical' edge, sometimes I just refuse to do the worst elements of "policing" that my job entails, but a lot of the times I'm forced to prepare students for tests using crap business-oriented material and to police their exams; my struggle against this world has fuck all to do with the times I do my job "correctly").

Intentions should always be judged by their results not by something abstract. The idea of getting into politics with good intentions is a way of lying to yourself: people get into politics to have a cushy job, to have the power to influence events in a hierarchical manner, to find "security" in maintaining or 'reforming' this world . Amongst those who rise, not all of them become 'corrupt', which is a liberal 'critique' of politicians. No, they often quite legally and without "corruption", reproduce the hierarchical authority roles necessary to maintain their well-paid nasty job of defending the commodity economy at a very ideologically intense level, reproducing a hierarchically superior position as a fundamental aspect of their job, regardless of whether they've only just "naively" becoming a politician.

And yes - with this ridiculous ideology of "good intentions" you are justifiying the unjustifiable. The tautology of the ideology of "good intentions" is such that you say you "didn't mean to" at the same time as you continue to "excuse people for what they've done": you too would like to be judged on your explicit intentions. Bu your real intentions are not to attack the so-called "naivety" of those who would like to become cops, but to justify them, as if th rle of cop wasn't essentialy "authoritarian". People always justify their horrible roles in this society by reference to what is good for others, when really this is just lying to themselves because economic pressures have forced them into a sick role (this is particularly true of soldiers) oand yet to admit that what you do for a living is shit makes it hard to continue doing the job (undoubtedly there are other more nuanced reasons, but really, I don't have the energy to look at them at the moment).

Of course, people can change - and not merely "their views", which is an expression of your purely intellectual approach: cops have to be traumatised, to break down and seriously question their whole lives - indeed this is one of the ways most people will have to advance against this world, to begin to dissolve their separate characters and roles imposed by this society as part of a general community of struggle. And this happens in daily progressing social movements like in Greece at the moment.

Samotnaf

13 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Samotnaf on March 17, 2010

I was forced by a situation beyond my control to send the above post very quickly without first previewing it or modifying it or elaborating on it at all.

The end of the 4th paragraph onwards should read:

"....reproducing a very hierarchically superior position as a fundamental aspect of their job, regardless of whether they've only just "naively" decided to become a politician for "good" opportunistic reasons or whether they've decided to for cynical opportunistic reasons. (Ken Livingsdeath is a case in point: he, well before rising in the Labour Party hierarchy, refused to have anything to do with a high-profile squat - of Centre Point at the beginning of 1974 - an action which itself was already highly compromised (so much so that even Jack Dromey could feel ok about participating in it) - because he believed it would damage his career. You enter politics with the "good intention" above all of preserving your safe lucrative social position, always and above all, with an eye on your career , always with a terror of taking risks that might jeopardise that hierarchical career.

Now i don't think this is a reason to excuse people from what they've done, and if i gave that impression then I didn't mean to,

With this ridiculous liberal ideology of "good intentions" you are excusing the inexcusable. The tautology of the ideology of "good intentions" is such that you say you "didn't mean to" at the same time as you continue to "excuse people for what they've done": you too would like to be judged on your explicit intentions. But your real hidden intentions are not to attack the so-called "naivety" of those who would like to become cops, but to justify them, to speak on their behalf, to represent them.

It should be obvious that the role of cop is essentially "authoritarian" from the very beginning. I suspect that all this justification for people becoming politicians and cops, is that you too are, as a typical politico, half-way to being a politician yourself, that is, not as a professional paid career move, but as an amateur unpaid one - very other directed, wanting to entice people to the correct views, to win them over by "doing good" in an anarchist, or whatever, fashion; proletarians when they contest hierarchical authority, fight for themselves, not to represent themselves to others like a good politician.

People always justify their horrible roles in this society by reference to what is good for others, when really this is just lying to themselves because economic pressures have forced them into a sick role (this is particularly true of soldiers) and yet to admit that what you do for a living is shit makes it hard to continue doing the job (undoubtedly there are other more nuanced reasons, but really, I don't have the energy to look at them at the moment).

Of course, people can change - and not merely "their views", which is an expression of your purely intellectual approach: cops have to be traumatised, to break down and seriously question their whole lives - indeed this is one of the ways most people will have to advance against this world, to begin to dissolve their separate characters and roles imposed by this society as part of a general community of struggle. And this happens in daily progressing social movements like in Greece at the moment. (this last is a tenuous attempt to appear to be getting back on topic, but fortunately it's not really necessary as taxikipali has started another report and thread on the latest events...)

luddita

13 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by luddita on April 15, 2010

thanks for this! regular media isn't covering what's happening in greece since the agreement was set with germany/international founds