AKNY–Greece Solidarity Movement -

Panel Discussion at CUNY: The European Working Class in Revolt Against Austerity

Sutarday on April 4 @ The Graduate Center - CUNY

Sutarday on April 4 @ The Graduate Center – CUNY

The European Working Class in Revolt Against Austerity

Saturday, April 4 – 6:00pmThe Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, CUNY25 W 43rd St, 19th Floor, Rooms 18A – 18DNew York, New York 10036

The big banks and world powers are trying to make working people, youth and the poor pay for a crisis that they didn’t create. “Austerity” means attacks on jobs, living conditions and social programs. Millions of people in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland have been thrown into perpetual joblessness and social crises.

In this context, new political formations of the left have arisen. Syriza has come to power in Greece and has faced immense challenges. Podemos, only a year old, is the highest-polling party in Spain. The Anti-Austerity Alliance in Ireland has come to the forefront of mass direct action against unfair taxation one of their Members of Parliament, Paul Murphy, being jailed for his leadership of the movement. There will be speakers at this meeting who have been involved in all three of these new political organizations.

This discussion will attempt to deal with the following questions: How can austerity be stopped? What role do elections have to play? What about strikes and demonstrations? What is the socialist and internationalist strategy?

Speakers from Greece’s Syriza, Spain’s Podemos and Ireland’s Anti-Austerity Alliance

Natassa Romanou
Research Professor at Columbia University in Climate Studies; a founding member of SYRIZA-NY and AKNY-Greece Solidarity Movement.

Elma Relihan
has been a community organizer and member of the Socialist Party in Ireland. She is campaigning for social justice issues and has been active in the campaign against austerity policies in Ireland. Elma will report on the recent struggles against water charges that threaten to bring down the Irish government

Seraphim Seferiades
Member of Xekinima – Socialist Internationalist Organization/CWI in Greece. Professor of History and Political Science at Panteion University in Athens as well as Life Member at Cambridge University.

Sean Sweeney
Director, International Program on Labor, Climate & Environment at the Murphy Institute; Trade Unions for Energy Democracy.

Cora Bergantinos
is active in PODEMOS EEUU, a member of New York Socialist Alternative and will speak about the crisis in Spain

Alan Akrivos
is a member of New York Socialist Alternative,a founding member of SYRIZA-NY and AKNY-Greece Solidarity Movement.

Hosted by Socialist Alternative New York

 

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Greek Parliament: Konstantopoulou Calls Debt Audit Commission

Why Should the Greek Debt Be Audited?

Zoe Konstantopoulou (centre) with Eric Toussaint (right).

Zoe Konstantopoulou (centre) with Eric Toussaint (right).

By Eric Toussaint, translated by Christine Pagnoulle and Vicki Briault
Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM)

March 21, 2015 — The president of the Greek parliament, Zoe Konstantopoulou, has set up a commission to audit the Greek debt and has asked me to play an active part in it. I have accepted the role to assume its scientific coordination.

This commission was launched on March 17, 2015, in Athens. |1| Recently the Athens correspondent for Le Monde wrote,

The Speaker of the parliament promised she would set up a commission to audit the Greek debt in the coming weeks, aimed at finding out whether part of the Greek public debt is odious, illegal or illegitimate. She declared, “People have a right to demand that the portion of the debt that the commission finds to be illegal be cancelled”. |2|

Such is the intricate context in which I write.

Without claiming to be exhaustive, we can propose the following definitions:

Illegitimate public debt: debt that was contracted by a government without considering the public interest or undermining the general interest.

Illegal debt: debt contracted in violation of the current legal or constitutional system.

Odious public debt: loans to authoritarian regimes or granted on conditions that violate the social, economic, cultural, civic, and political rights of the people concerned.

Unsustainable public debt: debt that can only be paid back with dire consequences for the people such as a dramatic degradation of its living conditions, of health care and education, an increase in unemployment. In short, debt that undermines basic human rights. In other words, debt whose repayment makes it impossible for governments to provide basic human rights.

Paragraph 9 of Article 7 of Regulation No 472/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 (which strongly undermines the sovereignty of the member States that have to implement adjustment policies) maintains that States subject to structural adjustment should carry out a complete audit of public debt in order to explain why indebtedness increased so sharply and to identify any irregularities. Here is the text in full:

A Member State subject to a macroeconomic adjustment programme shall carry out a comprehensive audit of its public finances in order, inter alia, to assess the reasons that led to the building up of excessive levels of debt as well as to track any possible irregularity. |3|

The Greek government under Antonis Samaras refrained from applying this regulation so as to hide from the Greek population, the real reasons for the increase in debt and the irregularities linked to it. In all, about 30 Greek and International experts will take part in the commission and a preliminary report is expected in June. Citizen participation is fundamental to a rigorous and independent audit process.

Here are some key points that could be revealed by carrying out an audit:

Greek debt, which was at 113% of GDP in 2009 before the onset of the Greek crisis and the intervention by the Troika, which now holds 4/5 of total debt, reached 175% of GDP in 2014. We therefore see that the Troika intervention was followed by a very considerable increase in Greek debt.

Between 2010 and 2012, the loans that the Troika granted to Greece were very largely used to repay its most important creditors at that time, mainly the private banks of the principal European economies, starting with the French and German banks. |4| In 2009, some 80% of Greek public debt was held by the private banks of seven EU countries. Fifty percent was held by French and German banks alone. In a recent ARTE documentary |5| Paulo Nogueira Batista, one of the IMF’s executive directors, claims that all IMF board members knew that the loan was actually intended to save the French and German banks not Greece. |6|

Philippe Legrain, advisor to the president of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso in 2010 when the Troika granted its loan, specifies that “IMF decision makers were overruled by the IMF managing director of the time, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was then running for the French presidency and consequently wanted to prevent French banks from facing losses. Similarly German banks had persuaded Angela Merkel that it would be terrible if ever they should lose money. So the Eurozone governments decided to pretend that Greece was only facing temporary problems.” They had to bypass “an essential principle in the Maastricht Treaty, namely the no-bail out clause. The loans to Athens were not intended to save Greece but the French and German banks that had been foolish enough to grant loans to an insolvent State.”

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Peter Bratsis. Syriza and Its Discontents — Truthout-OpEd

Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza), speaks in Palai de sport, Thessaloniki, Greece, a few days before the national elections of 2015. (Photo: Arvnick / Shutterstock.com)

 

One of the key talking points for Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the Syriza leadership for the last few years has been that political power is not “won” in elections; that power must be created; that it comes from below. Tsipras often noted that without people on the streets, making demands, pushing the government, demonstrating popular will, a Syriza regime would not be able to achieve its promises and goals.

This question of the production of power has become all the more pressing given recent events. Many have voiced their opposition to the conditions that the Greek government accepted in its recent agreement with its creditors in extending “bailout” loans for the next four months. Notable Syriza members such as Manolis Glezos and Stathis Kouvelakis, as well as supporters such as Tariq Ali (among many others), have been very vocal in denouncing the agreement as an overwhelming defeat and a retreat from Syriza’s campaign promises, these promises having proven to be no more than “an illusion” in the words of Glezos.

There is a call for the mobilization of left forces inside and outside of Syriza to demand that the government follow through on its mandate of ending austerity and not capitulate to fear and threats. Concurrently there is the demand that the Syriza leadership change its tactics or risk further demobilizing Greek social forces and losing the political momentum it has had held since the elections; Kouvelakis noted that thanks to the failure of the negotiations we have come to the end, for now at least, of “the climate of mobilization and rediscovered confidence that we saw in the first weeks after the election.”

The mantra that power comes from below is contradicted by the idea that it is the subjectivity of those at the top that gives coherence and direction to state power.

Leaving aside for the moment the details of the agreement and of whether it is or is not a retreat for Syriza, there is a key fundamental assumption present in the arguments of the Syriza leadership, as well as those of its internal critics: that the subjectivity and will of those at the top are what gives shape and direction to political power and that mobilizations that push these leaders may be necessary for achieving desired political goals. For example, like Odysseus tied to the mast of his ship, Syriza leaders ask for social movements and protests to bind them to their original program lest the siren song of public office and the practical considerations and anxieties of running a government overwhelm and overtake their radical intentions. Indeed, Yanis Varoufakis has gone as far as to suggest that he should be shot should he start acting like a politician.

Popular mobilizations in the form of marches, general strikes, demonstrations, pot banging and a plethora of other possibilities are manifestations of political power and are crucial to any attempt to reshape policies and to counter pressure from competing political forces.

For the Syriza leadership, as well as for their chorus of critics, the “power” that stems from the streets is fundamentally a capacity for shaping the calculations, discipline and political will of those who hold the reins of power. The levers of state power are just that, and the role of the streets and protest movements is to compel those who control these levers to take notice and account of popular sentiment and act accordingly.

Protest and resistance that does not disrupt the everyday does not destroy the existing circuits of power and certainly does not create new ones.

Thus, the mantra that power comes from below is contradicted by the idea that it is the subjectivity of those at the top that gives coherence and direction to state power. When protesters make demands, they are assuming that power is contained in the state institutions and that if enough pressure is brought to bear, we can influence the will of those who hold the commanding positions within these institutions and exercise state power. Is this political power being produced from below?

Where Does Political Power Come From?

Both sides of the coin of the current debates within Syriza are, thus, stuck within a fundamentally undialectial understanding of political power as a property of institutions and that the exercise of power is a matter of will (power as the capacity to impose your will); the strategic dilemma of the day being to create a “strong” will among the party leaders and/or the social classes and movements that support the party. If we take the more Marxist standpoint, however, that power is produced, not immanent to the institution or actor, the strategic dilemmas and debates within Syriza take on new dimensions. Nicos Poulantzas famously defined state institutions as condensations of class struggle, of social activity and relations. The daily struggles, activities and conflicts from the shop floor to the classroom and household are the matter from which even the most grand of state institutions are created.

A new political power, thus, presumes new forms of living, new struggles and new rhythms. Political change is a change of the everyday, or it is not change at all. To say that power comes from ‘below,’ that our own practices are the generators of political power, thus puts the primacy on action and not will.

There is no doubt that the vast majority of Greeks were and are opposed to the many austerity measures adopted in the last few years. So what? To the degree that their daily routines and activities stayed constant, the production of political power continued unabated and the Greek state was able to implement austerity with little difficulty. The minds and will of the Greeks may have been opposed to austerity, but their bodies were fully in support.

What then should a “mobilized” society entail? How can grassroots activity help transform the balance of forces and produce a new political power? The idea that popular mobilization involves taking to the streets to give voice to grievances and demands would seem to contradict the idea that changing practices is the goal of action. Protest and resistance that does not disrupt the everyday does not destroy the existing circuits of power and certainly does not create new ones. Let us remind ourselves of the great failure of 32 days of general strikes and many more days of protests and demonstrations to make any impact on the austerity governments of the last few years. To the degree that such protests and strikes were not new forms of practice but merely a moment of expressing demands and opinions or, much worse, integrated within the existing routines of contemporary Greece, the physics of political power remained unchanged. As such, the relevance of the”‘street”‘ is not as a venue through which people can express their political preferences and demands but as a site of activity.

Retreat or Disaster Averted?

The necessity for Greece to achieve an agreement with the Eurogroup for a loan extension is all the more clear and obvious from this standpoint. The move to crash the Greek banking system by eliminating access to liquidity was a gun to the head of Greek society. Even though the current regime enjoys very high levels of popular support (76 percent in the latest poll), the sudden closing of banks would have resulted in dramatic changes within the everyday practices of Greeks. The production of political power as it is presently constituted would have stopped. Political order would break down; a collapse of the government would be fast and ugly.

That Tsipras and Vaourfakis presented the agreement as a victory should not be taken as simply trying to put a positive spin on what is a capitulation to the demands of the European Union. It is certainly true that the new agreement is not far removed from previous ones in terms of the mandated oversight by the EU, ECB, and IMF, and it is also true that most of the previous austerity measures will continue for the time being, namely the many cuts to pensions and salaries.

It cannot be denied, however, that today we are in a very different climate than before the elections. Whereas the discussions before were in terms of what further cuts would be necessary (increase in VAT and further pension cuts were to be approved by the previous government), the new agreement takes it as a given that the agenda is now the reverse, undoing austerity, and the question is which reversals will be able to be funded and, thus, allowed. Most of all, however, without an agreement, the Greek government’s days would have been very numbered, and there is no question that this would have been a definitive defeat of the left in Greece and Europe more broadly.

The uproar that the presumed “retreat” or “defeat” has created within Syriza is diverting attention from key problems that need to be addressed. The four months of time that this new agreement has given Syriza, not much time at all, is the new window of opportunity for the Greek government to begin the transformation of society and the creation of new circuits of power.

Regardless of the new agreement, it was already a given that any new spending could only be accomplished if new revenues were found. Further loans for the purpose of increasing public spending were not possible; this is not a new development. The expectation is that if indeed Syriza is able to follow through on being able to collect more unpaid taxes and decrease tax evasion, those additional resources could be used to fund its social programs. This is certainly a daunting task but speed here is key, and the sooner that the government can begin its attempts to collect more taxes, the better. But, what has been forgotten and ignored in the frenzy of the last few weeks is the project of creating new forms of political power and to transform Greece into an ever more democratic and capable society.

Lost in these discussions is any attention to all the political and cultural transformations that need to take place for Greece to produce new circuits of power and become rewired so that new institutions of politics and new cultural sensibilities come into existence.

If the temporary deal with the Eurogroup is going to lead to disaster it is not because the Greek people will lose faith in the Syriza government and withdraw support, nor is it because it will demobilize social movements and keep them from actively asserting their preferences and interests in support of Syriza initiatives. We have already seen that public opinion is of no consequence, actions matter, and that protests and strikes are of similarly little consequence today if they do not transform the everyday. The real risk, in my opinion, is that the fear of the Syriza government in alienating segments of the Greek public, combined with a obsession with economic questions and implementing the Thessaloniki program without any delays or changes, will take away all attention from making the changes to political practice and everyday life that are necessary for new a political power to emerge and replace the old.

The Limits to Economic Reason

The question of austerity has overwhelmed all political discussions inside and outside Syriza. This is not surprising. However, it has set up a set of false divisions between those who disagree on how best to undo austerity in Greece. Must the efforts be Europeanist in character or can a more traditional patriotic and nationalist effort be more effective? Must banks be nationalized or can economic growth be furthered through private control? At what price does it make sense to privatize public assets? And, most centrally, can Greece stay in the eurozone and end austerity or must a return to a national currency occur so that Greece can regain the political sovereignty necessary for imposing a new set of policies. One side presents itself as the more “left” option, but the differences are fundamentally ones of tactics and not of values or principles.

Lost in these discussions is any attention to all the political and cultural transformations that need to take place for Greece to produce new circuits of power and become rewired so that new institutions of politics and new cultural sensibilities come into existence.

Marxism has produced a sizable and quite distinguished literature on the limitations and undemocratic nature of the capitalist state. One would expect a Marxist government in Greece to have an agenda of transforming the state in ways that further popular participation of citizens and that transform its functions to those in line with democratic desire. One would expect plans to counter the suburbanization of Athens and renew the cultural and political vibrancy of urban life. One would expect measures to reduce mechanisms of representation and reverse the centralization of political authority. One would expect rapid and decisive transformations of the ideological state apparatus of schooling.

Instead of intense discussions on the foregoing, what we find, in the best-case scenario, is great dedication to combat corruption and eliminate clientelism. In other words, rather than being critical of the state-form as such and thinking of ways that we could try to reconstitute Greece, we are stuck in the liberal fantasy that an objective and impersonal organization of state authority would, finally, provide the conditions for prosperity and justice. Were Cornelius Castoriadis alive today, he would be rolling in his grave.

Raising more money by combating tax evasion is necessary, but it will never be sufficient for changing Greek society. If we indeed understand power to be produced from the bottom up, we need to act like it. If the daily routines and social relations of Greek society continue as they were yesterday and the day before, the possibilities of change are zero. Where will a new political power come from?

The Greek government seems too fearful of endangering public opinion and too obsessed with eliminating austerity to think about the broader political project and tasks that need to be addressed.

The dangers that the current debates within and about Syriza present us with are two-fold. On the one hand, the forces within Syriza risk polarizing themselves over tactical differences rather than fundamental divisions of goals and values. On the other hand, it is precisely these common goals that have limited the discussion to how to undo austerity and have kept us from exploring ways to transform the political and cultural routines of Greek society so as to create new modalities of political power.

If the next four months are focused on questions of economics with no attention to other matters, we lose the chance to begin the work of transforming the society and for creating new power relations. Paradoxically, the Marxists will have conformed to the liberal viewpoint of homo economicus; “humanitarian” programs will have reduced the residents of Greece to “bare life”; our capacity to found our own cultural and political life will have been abandoned to market forces and unthinking repetition.

In this moment of crisis, when so much could be done in changing the rhythms of life in Greece, the Greek government seems too fearful of endangering public opinion and too obsessed with eliminating austerity to think about the broader political project and tasks that need to be addressed.

Etienne Balibar and Sandro Mezzadra are completely correct to point to the importance of the time and space that this temporary agreement between Greece and its creditors has won. This time needs to be used to focus on the materiality of the class struggle and the concrete social activity that political power is founded upon, and we must abandon the idealist fixation on political will.

The real possibility of Greece leaving the eurozone should indeed be prepared for, and we should be planning and thinking about how to minimize the disruptions to everyday life in such an event. At the same time we need to be working on the purposeful transformation of that same everyday life so as to create a new political reality in Greece and finally overcome the limits of liberalism and the nation-state.

 

Peter Bratsis

Peter Bratsis is associate director of the Center for the Study of Culture, Technology and Work at the Graduate Center and assistant professor of political science at Borough of Manhattan Community College of the City University of New York.  He is the author of Everyday Life and the State, editor (with Stanley Aronowitz) of Paradigm Lost: State Theory Reconsidered, and edits of the journal Situations: Project of the Radical Imagination.

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Michael Roberts on Syriza, the Troika and Grexit

theseus-and-the-minotaur-940-389-97-640x300

Socialist Report:

“This is just like ‘Third World’ aid that used to be distributed by the World Bank and other international agencies back in the 1980s and 1990s. Most of this ‘aid’ ended up in corrupt dictators’ pockets or in repaying previous debt. The people never saw it. And the debt levels stayed where they were, as they do for Greece now.  Back then, eventually the international agencies agreed what was called a Brady debt swap that wrote off a portion of the debt that could never be repaid. No such plan is available to Greece, although Syriza asked for it in their negotiations with the Eurogroup.”

 

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March 21 2015 – New York Against Fascism and Racism

_Jan19th_B02

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ACTION AGAINST FASCISM AND RACISM

Rally in Zuccotti Park
Saturday March 21 @ 1p.m.

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On March 21 we protest in many countries of the world against racism and fascism: New York, London, Berlin, Paris, Rome, Copenhagen, Vienna and Nicosia. We protest in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras and Chania.

With the new government of SYRIZA we continue our fight to finish with the Nazis of Golden Dawn and to break with racial discrimination. Our struggles brought the fall of the co-government of Samaras and Venizelos who opened concentration camps after the racist sweeps of ELAS (Greek Police), built the fence in Evros, causing the drowning of women and children in the Aegean, took back the right to citizenship and the vote of immigrants. The Police collaborated with the Golden Dawn in attacks in neighborhoods.

The murderers of Pavlos Fyssas and Sahzat Luqman have been referred to trial for instituting a criminal organization. We want them to go to jail.

We want to stop any police cooperation with the Golden Dawn. To finish with the pogroms in the neighborhoods, terminate the smashing of our shops and the burning of our mosques.

The Islamophobia in Europe after the attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine has flared up. For the murders committed by some Islamists not all Muslims are to blame, in the same manner that for the mass killings by both French and NATO armies not all Christians are to blame. The imperialist interventions and the wars nourished the ISIS and the hatred and sowed death and destruction to millions in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Now we demand that there will be real change with the new government of SYRIZA.

We want citizenship for children born and growing up in the country and legalization of immigrants living undocumented for years.

Equal political and religious rights for all. Voting rights for immigrants.

Close now the concentration camps and tear down the fence in Evros.

Asylum and shelter to refugees, access to schools and hospitals.

Imprison for good the neo-Nazi murderers of the Golden Dawn.

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AKNY Statement: Neo Iraklion Murders & ERT Shutdown

On the Murders Of Two Golden Dawn Members
And Yesterday’s Shutdown of ERT

STATEMENT BY AKNY-GREECE SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT
Please follow latest developments on our FB page.

Last night, November 6, as footage of a 4 am raid by Greek riot police at the headquarters of the public broadcaster ERT streamed online, we were reminded of the hypocrisy and the sinister plans of the present Greek government of the New Democracy party and its junior partner PASOK.

ON THE RAID ON ERT

ERT, the Greek Public broadcasting TV and radio network, was summarily ordered shut down by the Samaras government last June, in a cabinet decree later found to be illegal by the Greek courts. Since then the unpaid ERT workers have occupied the network’s headquarters and continued broadcasting on the Web, creating a true open forum for struggling workers and the issues of the day.

Last night eight squadrons of riot police raided the ERT building and took possession of it. Today, ERT workers showed their continued defiance by broadcasting the news from the street outside the locked-down headquarters, with 1.25 million views online. Strikes have been called to protest the raid in days to come. The parliamentary opposition of Syriza, the Coalition of the Radical Left, has filed a censure motion that threatens to bring down the Samaras government.

ERT journalist Aglaia Kyritsi, who has refused to apply for a post in the government's new privatized

ERT journalist Aglaia Kyritsi, who has refused to apply for a post in the government’s new privatized “public” channel, presents the news outside locked-down ERT headquarters, Nov. 7, 2013. Behind her riot police in full gear "protect" the building from its workers. (Adapted from Panagiotis Sotiris)

ON THE MURDERS IN NEO IRAKLION

Last Friday, November 1, two members of Golden Dawn were shot to death and another man was wounded by unknown assailants who drove up on a motorbike and opened fire outside the Golden Dawn offices in Neo Iraklion.

We condemn this crime absolutely and find that it is entirely counter to the spirit and the practice of the Greek democratic left and of the grassroots anti-fascist movement that has until now opposed the neo-Nazis in Greece.

There has been much speculation in the media and by politicians about who may have been responsible for the Nov. 1 murders, although so far no salient details as to the identities of the perpetrators have been made available to the public, and it is unclear what if anything the authorities know about who is responsible. (See news in Greek and English/NYT)

Police investigating at scene of murders in Neo Iraklion, Nov. 1. (Links to story in Greek on tvxs.gr)

Police investigating at scene of murders in Neo Iraklion, Nov. 1. (Links to story in Greek on tvxs.gr)

ON THE GOVERNMENT & ITS “NARRATIVE OF THE 2 EXTREMES”

Despite the lack of information about who the perpetrators of the attack on G.D. were, the government under Prime Minister Samaras is using the murders to reinforce its “narrative of the two extremes,” which equates the neo-Nazi far-right with the people and workers of Greece who are resisting the austerity measures dictated by the EU-led troika and imposed by the same Samaras government. The government has chosen this moment to press forward with its attack on the workers and the left, as we are seeing with the raid on ERT, and to facilitate the rehabilitation of the far-right elements inside and close to New Democracy and the Greek state.

Until very recently, the government tolerated neo-Nazi associates in its police force, but we are supposed to never mind. Never mind that special units of the army were providing training to Golden Dawn cadre. Never mind that the murderer of Shezhad Luqman last January had Golden Dawn materials in his apartment, and that the police tried to minimize this. Never mind that the murder of Pavlos Fyssas was a well-orchestrated hit by a Golden Dawn “attack battalion” with apparent countenance by elements in the police.

Never mind that high police officials were forced to resign after their ties to Golden Dawn were exposed. Never mind that there are reports that Golden Dawn has distributed weapons stockpiles in “strategic locations” throughout Greece. Never mind all that, because now the government is claiming that there are “left wing extremists” who must be met with the same tough legal measures imposed on leading members of Golden Dawn–although the latter are being investigated in connection with 10 homicides and attempted murders.

Athens, Nov. 7,2013. After a night raid (!) that's how police chose to seal the front entrance of the Greek Public TV!

Athens, Nov. 7,2013. After the night raid this is how police chose to seal the front entrance of ERT.

We believe the fight against the neo-Nazis is one that is fought in the streets, every day, in broad daylight. The movement of the people will turn back Golden Dawn in the streets and bring down the Samaras government by resisting by democratic and popular means, in every workplace and neighborhood, against their authoritarian and brutal economic policies.

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Greg Palast’s Unfortunate Golden Dawn Apologia

More Investigation – Less Pontification

Opinion by Nikos Levis
UPDATED October 10th – See Addendum

Greg Palast has done great work as a reporter. So it’s sad to see the best-selling author’s very ill-informed editorial in Truthout today, in which he attacks the Greek left for “cheering” the arrests of the Golden Dawn leadership. Palast begins with a confused version of the news from Greece. The Greek government has not issued a ban on the Golden Dawn party, as he seems to suggest. It’s doubtful most of the left would support a party-wide ban by the state, since they are aware it would set a dangerous precedent.

Here are the details of what has actually happened so far, which Palast’s column mangles:
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PSC-CUNY Faculty and Professionals Union Supports Greek Teachers’ Strike

RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF STRIKING TEACHERS
AND OTHER PUBLIC WORKERS IN GREECE

PSC-CUNY, the Professional Service Congress representing faculty and professionals at the City University of New York, adopted the following resolution October 4, 2013.

Whereas, public employees in the U.S. and abroad continue to be pressured by local and national governments to bear the brunt of a world-wide economic crisis that was not of their making and accept layoffs and reductions in pay, job security, pensions and health care; and

Whereas, corporate interests have used the economic crisis as a pretext to push an agenda of austerity and privatization that enriches their shareholders by sapping resources intended for the public good, scapegoats public employees, threatens social safety net programs depended on by millions and diminishes the quality of public services such as education; and

Whereas, public workers in Greece who have already been subjected to several rounds of austerity-driven layoffs, salary reductions and other cuts are striking to resist a new round of cuts affecting 25,000 workers and layoffs affecting 15,000 workers planned by the Greek government under pressure from “bailout” lenders at the European Union and International Monetary Fund; and

Whereas, the class dimension of the layoffs that affect the Greek education system is revealed by the fact that they disproportionately affect specialties in technical high schools often pursued by lower-income students; and

Whereas, this development encourages the privatization of education, as many of the students who can no longer pursue these specialties in the public high school will have to turn to the private sector if they and their families can afford it; and

Whereas, the brutal austerity policies in Greece have undermined schools, leading to inadequate fuel and school heating in the winter, an insufficient number of teachers, and many students going to school hungry; and

Whereas, part and parcel of the austerity policies in Greece is a liquidation of labor and collective bargaining rights and draconian civil mobilization orders that have allowed the government to break strikes by teachers as well as by workers in other sectors of the economy; and

Whereas, public high school teachers represented by their labor union, OLME, are fully engaged in the fight against austerity and last week voted to launch a rolling strike against public sector layoffs starting on September 16, and

Whereas, ADEDY, a confederation of public sector unions, called a strike and organized mass demonstrations this week, and

Whereas, public workers in the U.S. face a similar assault, with budget deficits closed through layoffs and reductions in benefits, social safety net programs under attack and unions undermined and demonized; and

Whereas, educators in the U.S. are targeted as scapegoats and particularly subjected to the privatization and austerity agenda through charter schools, school closings, relentless testing and other so called “accountability measures,”

Whereas, PSC members are in the midst of our own fight against the forces of austerity by resisting public disinvestment in CUNY and the diminishment of our curriculum through Pathways;

Resolved, that the PSC stands in solidarity with the striking teachers and other public workers of Greece, we thank them for their sacrifices and for the brave stand they are taking against austerity, a misguided policy that worsens economic inequality and deprives working people of necessary public services.

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Astoria: Politics & Crisis In Greece After the Crackdown on ‘Golden Dawn’

WHAT IS THE LEFT ALTERNATIVE?

Public Meeting in Astoria – 5pm Sat, Oct 12, 2013

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LOCATION: Church of the Redeemer, 30-14 Crescent Street, Corner of Crescent & 30th Road. N/Q Train to 30th Avenue in Astoria. Church of the Redeemer is the venue, not an endorser.

LOCATION: Church of the Redeemer, 30-14 Crescent Street, Corner of Crescent & 30th Road.
N/Q Train to 30th Avenue in Astoria. Church of the Redeemer is the venue, not an endorser.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

On September 18, Pavlos Fyssas, an internationally known hip-hop artist, anti-fascist and left activist, was assassinated by members of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn (G.D.). Fyssas and six friends were assaulted by 30-40 members of a G.D. “attack battalion.” Fyssas was stabbed to death in what the coroner attested was not an amateur hit. In response to the assassination, hundreds of thousands of outraged people took to the streets in Greece, with solidarity protests in a dozen European cities as well as New York and Tokyo.

After years of failing to prosecute acts of violence attributed to Golden Dawn, the Greek government of New Democracy and PASOK finally struck against the neo-Nazis on Sept. 28. About 40 G.D. leaders, parliamentarians and party members have been arrested. They are charged with running a criminal organization responsible for 32 cases of violence, including 10 alleged murders and attempted murders.

We are forced to ask: Why were the first nine cases not enough to prompt action?

For years, Greek authorities tolerated and even protected G.D.’s violence against immigrants, gays, leftists, anarchists, artists and others. In the week after Fyssas’ murder two top police officials with alleged G.D. links resigned suddenly for “personal reasons.” Many examples show G.D.’s violence worked in the service of avoiding change, eliminating dissent, and defending dominant economic interests and social structures. A week before the murder, the G.D. “attack battalion” assaulted and injured Communist Party (KKE) members, apparently because they were organizing shipyard workers against wage cuts.

G.D.’s violence, we submit, serves the same functions as the violence of the Greek government. In both cases, those who demand social change are seen as enemies. The government suppresses peaceful protest with tear gas and mass arrests. Central Athens is shut down by thousands of police troops whenever EU officials visit to oversee the Greek austerity program. When transit workers and then teachers tried to strike, the government declared martial law, issuing conscription orders to strikers and threatening to charge them with treason and imprison them. Thus, the austerity policies have not only created social conditions that allowed anti-immigrant sentiment and neo-Nazi sects to flourish. They have also gone hand-in-hand with ever-more authoritarian attempts to eliminate political challenges and social protest. To frighten voters into accepting authoritarian measures, the government presents a “narrative of the two extremes,” attempting to equate left opposition parties with Nazis.

Two-thirds of people under 30 are unemployed, pensions and wages for most have been cut by 30-50 percent or more. But the resulting popular discontent and anger fails to register with the political machinery. Two weeks ago, the University of Athens was forced to shut down altogether due to budget cuts!

In the face of immense failures, the government bizarrely declares success after success, and expects everyone to play along with its charade.

Even during Prime Minister Samaras’ visit to New York, he presented a false picture of unity behind his government’s policies. On October 12, the Greek left of New York will present a radically different picture. We will discuss and debate alternatives the left in Greece offers for moving past the country’s crises. We invite the Greek-American community to take part and we also invite all New Yorkers. (The main language of the meeting will be English, but people are also welcome to speak in Greek; translations from Greek will be provided.)

Developments in Greece are part of a global crisis that also affects the United States. Greece has become capitalism’s testing ground to see how much pain a people can take. The lessons learned in Greece are already being applied in other countries, including in parts of the United States.

End the Politics of Austerity.
Restore Democracy Now!

With

KOSTIS KARPOZILOS
Historian, Columbia University
Writer of the documentary film “Greek American Radicals
DESPINA LALAKI
Sociologist, NYU
AKNY-Greece Solidarity Movement
PETER BRATSIS
Asst. Professor of Political Science, CUNY
Member, SYRIZA NY
IANNIS DELATOLAS
Anti-fascist, activist
Member, Antarsya

SPONSORED BY
• AKNY-Greece Solidarity Movement (www.AKNY.org)
• Syriza-New York (www.syriza-ny.org)
• ANTARSYA NY
• Campaign for Peace and Democracy (www.cpdweb.org)
• Occupy Astoria LIC (www.OccupyAstoriaLIC.org)
• Queens College Socialist Club

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