AKNY–Greece Solidarity Movement -

To Stay Or To Leave? The Dilemma Of Grexit

“It is exactly the absence of possible solutions under capitalism that is causing the despair of the strategists of capital, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. They continue to insist on economic formulas which had the potential to provide solutions, in some cases and under certain conditions, in the period before the 2008 crisis, as in the period prior to 1929. Such formulas were unfair to the working class through slashing their living standards, but they could help to reduce unemployment. After 2008 though, just as after 1929, such policies are unable to provide results, since the capitalist economic system has once more exhausted itself – another legacy of the post-1929 period, and of Marxist analysis.”…

This article was published on June 18, on “The Socialist Network” website

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 The Dilemma Of Grexit

In these years of austerity Europe found itself in the worst economic position since the end of the 2nd World War. In Greece this policy has caused an economic catastrophe similar to the one that the crash of 1929 inflicted on the United States.

Exit from the Euro, however, cannot in any way be an answer to the crisis. Instead, it will deprive all possibilities for treatment of the disease.

Increased independence in constructing one’s own economic policy is one of the basic arguments of those supporting Exit from the Euro. But such an argument does not stand on anything that could be called solid ground.

“The two most striking trends characterising the contemporary world economic landscape are globalisation and financialisation.” 1

The real meaning of these trends though, which all admit in words, should be clear: There can be no insulation or protection of any national economy from the daily developments, whims and storms of the world economy. The neoliberal period especially, can be seen as the extreme manifestation of this reality.

With the collapse of Lehmann Brothers in 2008, the collapse of a single bank in the US, the financial system of all countries in the world almost completely froze, and without exception. The situation was saved at the last moment, not through the independent policy reactions of the different countries, but through the largest financial subsidy package in US history.
The crisis in South East Asia in the summer of 1997, the deepest in modern times before 2008, “marked a structural break in the thinking behind the euro project… – when one Asian currency after another, from the Thai Baht to the South Korean Won, were subjected to massive speculative attacks and forced off their dollar pegs and into free-fall devaluation with catastrophic domestic economic effects – they realized the importance of currency mass in the new global financial reality.” 2
With the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990 and the African National Congress’ss march to power, the leadership of the ANC was confronted with realities that paralyzed every attempt to implement their program, in the center of which was the nationalization of the banks, of the mining industry and of the monopolistic corporations of the country. “When the government tried to implement the visions of “The freedom Charter”, it discovered that real power was in the hands of others … every time a top official of the party implied that “The freedom Charter” might be applied, the markets reacted with a shock, causing free fall of the rand (the country’s currency)” 3
All national economies are subject to the will of a dozen Euro-American banks and to the effects of any negative developments on the international level.

The size of an economy is important affecting its ability to resist to external pressures of any sort. This is especially so at a time when economies are so interconnected and financial institutions have so much power. It was exactly to create such a large-sized economy that the Eurozone was set up, “when the French and certain other European governments saw what happened across South East Asia that summer (1997)” 4

Greece, Cyprus and any of the other Eurozone countries, are a huge step forward in regard to their ability to cope with the global economic crisis; a huge step that is determined by the size of the Eurozone. On this scale there is the potential for radical economic changes that could reverse the present economic picture throughout Europe.

The Eurozone’s fragmentation on the other hand would represent a similarly huge step backwards. A step at the head of which the most conservative, right-wing and fascist political formations would place themselves, exactly the forces that are already the most vocal in supporting the independent road for national salvation.

Absolute inadequacy of the capitalist recipes

A return to the national currency, its supporters maintain, would provide, together with policy independence, the ability to compete with other countries by offering cheaper products and services. According to this argument, the exit of Greece from the Euro and its return to its old currency, the Drachma, would enable Greece to devalue its new currency and thereby better compete with other countries such as Portugal – generally the products and services of the weakest European countries, since Greece could never compete with the Germans. An Exit from the Euro would take place in order to improve the Greek economy, reduce unemployment and so on, at the expense of the Portuguese economy, at the expense of Portuguese employment and the already dramatically reduced standard of living there. The only result of such a policy would be a reaction of Portugal along the same lines, something that would exacerbate the economic downfall, the nationalist sentiments and put the possibility of war on to the agenda.

The Troika’s policy of the Memorandum policies and austerity aims at “increasing competitiveness”. But “increasing competitiveness” is also the aim of Exiting the Euro. In the first case, by reducing labour costs through wage and benefit cuts. In the second by reducing labour costs through depreciation of the currency’s value, i.e. depreciation of the real value of salaries and allowances. Thus the Memorandum and Exiting the Euro are both capitalist methods designed to achieve similar ends through different routes. And to solve the crisis at a time when there is no such a possibility.

It is exactly the absence of possible solutions under capitalism that is causing the despair of the strategists of capital, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. They continue to insist on economic formulas which had the potential to provide solutions, in some cases and under certain conditions, in the period before the 2008 crisis, as in the period prior to 1929. Such formulas were unfair to the working class through slashing their living standards, but they could help to reduce unemployment. After 2008 though, just as after 1929, such policies are unable to provide results, since the capitalist economic system has once more exhausted itself – another legacy of the post-1929 period, and of Marxist analysis.

If the Exit from the Euro could provide a solution to the crisis, then someone needs to explain why the crisis is global and concerns all countries, the US and Japan included. Countries that possess their own currencies still, cannot find a way out of the economic mire, despite the fact that they are pursuing all possible expansionary policies. And despite the fact that their debt, especially that of Japan, has risen to extravagant levels, levels higher than those of 2008, which were put forward as the reason for the crisis.

International cooperation

“If countries such as Greece or Portugal or Spain give up the euro and return to their separate national currencies, any hope of a radical change in the economic direction of Europe will be crushed because that change requires international solidarity and that solidarity in turn requires the euro.” 5

It’s exactly such solidarity that is needed today. International solidarity is not a romantic idea for socialist dreamers, but a necessity spelled out by the most concrete fact of our times: that its opposite – national competition, this same competition that originally gave capitalism an enormous advantage over all social systems that preceded it, albeit with enormous social suffering – such national competition can now only lead to disaster.

To save the economy of Greece is to save the economy of Europe. There is no future for the Greek economy in the middle of a capitalist Europe, even less in the middle of a capitalist Europe after the 2008 crisis. Whatever measures Greece takes, even if it were to nationalise the banking system and all key industries of the economy, Greece would be doomed if it were to move alone.

It is extremely important that the SYRIZA government moves along these lines, at least for the time being. The Syriza leadership has repeatedly made it clear that there is no solution to the crisis outside of the Eurozone. They have repeatedly made it clear that there is no solution for Europe either as long as there is no solution to the Greek crisis. And with these basic acknowledgements at the fore, they keep going on with the negotiations, negotiations that they have handled pretty well from the point of view of winning the sympathy of the European masses. The Greek government has shown that they are not the intransigent ones, that it is the European institutions which are insisting on continuing a program that has failed miserably, a program that has devastated Greek society.

The Break up of Negotiations Was Unavoidable

We did not believe that there was a possibility for an agreement between the institutions of Capitalist Europe and SYRIZA. Capitalist Europe’s plan is to humiliate SYRIZA as an example to all the others. From the perspective of the capitalist elite, they do not have many other options. Even a small reversal of their policies would put into question everything which they argued for so arrogantly in the previous period, insisting that ‘there was no alternative’. Even a small reversal in their policies would be a signal to the European masses that ‘there is an alternative’, a signal that could call forth an explosion of struggle against the austerity programme.

We are fast approaching the moment of truth. Greece may soon find itself out of the Eurozone as a result of a conscious decision of the capitalist institutions of Europe. But it is one thing to be expelled from Europe after you have defended the basic demands of the people of Greece, demands that many other European working people equally consider important and unquestionable. It is a totally different matter to cultivate the illusion that there is a solution to the crisis outside of the Eurozone. That there is even a remote chance of success on an independent national path.

If Greece is thrown out of the Eurozone, then it will have to intensify its appeal to the European masses to the highest possible degree, with the hope that it won’t be long before the European people come to its rescue, not just for Greece’s sake but for their own too.

This article is part of ongoing debate we have been organising on this website – see ‘Debate: What Way Forward for Greece?‘ for earlier material.
You can contact Soteris directly about this contribution at: vlachos.soteris@cytanet.com.cy

FootNotes

1. Three Myths Behind the Case for Grexit: A Destructive Analysis, by Photis Lysandrou Associate Professor of Economics, SOAS and Research Professor, City University, London
2. The same
3. “The Shock Doctrine”, Naomi Klein, Greek edition, p. 266 p. 282.
4. Three Myths Behind the Case for Grexit…
5. The same

 

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Soteris Vlachos lives in Cyprus, he is a political economist, a member of The Socialist Expression and a founding member of the Bi-Communal Peace Initiative.

Many of his articles are published in “Haravgi” and “Gnomi” newspapers.

He is a co-author of the book “Προδoμενη Εξεγερση” and the author of five booklets on Global Economy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nicholas Levis reports from Greece – JUNE 21, 2015

Nicholas Levis

Nicholas Levis

I attended the pro-Syriza rally last Thursday, and ended up having drinks with Paul Mason! Yes, with ND taking the streets for the first time, the pro-austerity rally on Friday was bigger, based on the pictures. (If you saw their signs in English, the joke making the rounds is that the rally was sponsored by Google Translate. For Greeks: Τόρα τους λέμε Μενουμευρωπαίους.)

Anti austerity Protest

Anti austerity Protest

But there was not much difference. Both rallies were well under 10,000. Both looked like unusually middle-aged crowds for demos. Youth may seem largely indifferent, but it’s unimaginable that with 50% unemployment among them for years they feel any stake in favoring austerity. The danger is that the government has not been inspiring people and the general sense is some rotten deal is coming.

It has impressed me that people are not generally acting or talking as if the banks might be closed tomorrow. Yakkety-yak on trains and buses, small talk I overhear among Greeks at the university, is almost all stink-normal stuff. Nothing about the crisis except as a kind of weather. Perhaps there is a popular overload after all these years of the same shit. People have told me (and I’ve also heard it on the TV talk rounds) that Tsipras/Varoufakis have already signed Memorandum III with the Troika and everything happening on the news is just theater. Others, meanwhile, think Tsipras made a secret deal with Russia/BRICS.

In any case, about a billion a day are being withdrawn from Greek banks, says the news. The Greek central bank (under leadership appointed by ND the week before the election) joined the ECB in stoking panic about a bank run. Naked threats. Today the monthly Avgi poll shows increased support for the government’s course and has prompted complaints from ND. There’s a lot of talk, but it’s all talk so far, about the IMF being cut out of tomorrow’s Eurogroup talks in preparation for a separate deal with the EU. The IMF in particular is being blamed as the architects of the memoranda and austerity policy.

All last week I’ve been watching the Vouli (Parliament) channel, which I’ve taken to calling Zoe TV, because she really is a star. If I might be allowed a bit of hero worship! The Debt Truth commission and a separate one on the events of 2010 have been covered round the clock. There is an oft-played commercial from Spain, of people in various city squares reading a message of solidarity in Greek and repeating that the debt is odious and should be written off. The truth commission, as you all know, has pretty much called it all odious, and you can find their report online. The 2010 commission has had testimony from economists who were employed by ELSTAT (the Greek statistics bureau) at the time, who are presenting a new story about what happened. According to this, the sudden spike in debt and deficit after the election of Little Georgie Papandreou was not simply a discovery of crooked deals that had been kept off the books by the prior governments, as was claimed, and as we’ve believed. On the contrary, the commission is finding that under the direction of EUROSTAT and the ministry, the ELSTAT economists were forced to violate EU accounting rules in force since 1995 to make the deficit look much bigger than it was, through a variety of tricks. They were let go soon after. So what proportion of the spike was because of prior camouflage to meet Maastricht criteria and what was fabricated by crooked accounting on the spot is not clear. Either way, big lies were employed to make the crisis much worse.

The message appears to have finally sunk in here and internationally, as we have known all along, that there was never a bailout – that 90% of the new debt went into the rescue of European banks, and never reached the Greek economy. German taxpayers were tapped to bail out German banks, and Greeks were made responsible for paying it back even as the austerity program (intentionally) shrank the economy made it impossible for them to sustain payments.

The 2010 committee’s testimony prompted conniptions later on the floor from Loverdos, the PASOK politician whom you may remember as one of the ministers behind the disgusting election maneuver in 2012 detailed in the great film by Zoe Mavroudi, Ruins. (The police rounded up hundreds of women at random on the street, gave them forced HIV tests, and charged those who tested positive on assault, on the basis of this crazy story about prostitutes luring good Greek family fathers – hundreds of them, none of whom ever appeared – so as to intentionally give them AIDS.)

Samaras is trying to get Potami and PASOK to hold a leadership summit, and it’s reported that he’s met behind the scenes with the former prime minister and originator of neo-liberal economics in Greece, Simitis (who got out early enough that his shit supposedly doesn’t stink), who has a Greek-German background and is seen as a backchannel. Oh, and more bullshit is flying about how Merkel and Schäuble are split. No problem in finding either narrative: EU about to fold in terror of euro breakup, EU absolutely iron in its determination to cause the Syriza government to fall as the only priority.

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Zoe Konstantopoulou to Speak at The GCAS Conference in Athens / AKNY is sponsoring GCAS conference

 

Zoe Konstantopoulou, President of the Greek Parliament.

Zoe Konstantopoulou,
President of the Greek Parliament.

The Global Center for Advanced Studies’ conference, Democracy Rising   announced that the President of the Greek Parliament, Zoe Konstantopoulou will address the conference

https://globalcenterforadvancedstudies.org/president-of-the-greek-parliament-zoe-konstantopoulou-to-speak-at-democracy-rising/ Continue reading

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Greece’s “Solidarity For All” tours the US

Please Forward & Post
on Websites, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
11039298_1607054572885119_8169710769138228886_nComing to a city near you!

U.S. TOUR WITH CHRISTOS GIOVANOPOULOS
FOUNDING MEMBER OF GREECE’S
SOLIDARITY FOR ALL MOVEMENT

Christos Giovanopoulos

Christos Giovanopoulos

A founding member of Solidarity for All, Christos Giovanopoulos lives in Athens. He is responsible for the international solidarity movement. He holds an MA in Film and TV theory and a political economy degree and he has worked as a visiting lecturer teaching Media and Critical Theory in the University of Westminster, London between 2007-2011. He is a chief editor in the radical left publishing house A/synechia and co-editor of Democracy Under Construction: from the Streets to the Squares.

Solidarity for All is a collective that identifies and supports the many social solidarity initiatives that have been established in Greece as a part of the resistance to the harsh austerity policies that have led to a humanitarian crisis. People have taken matters into their own hands through grassroots activism and local collective action. The many and varied social solidarity initiatives include social pharmacies, social medical clinics, social kitchens, social groceries, markets without middlemen, a social collective of mental health professionals, social solidarity drop-in centers, time banks (sharing skills and time), olive oil producers sharing olive oil, the “potato movement,” where farmers trade directly with consumers, cutting out the supermarkets. Read here about Solidarity4All  

For ongoing information about events in different cities, go to the tour’s Facebook page. And don’t forget to promote the tour by “liking” the page! The tour is especially timely at a moment when Greece is urgently calling for international solidarity in the face of unrelenting demands for disastrous austerity.

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NEW YORK:
Tuesday, May 26 • 7:30 – 9pm
“Austerity Is Killing Us: What the U.S. Is Learning from Greece’s Fight”
Frances Fox Piven in Conversation with Christos Giovanopoulos
ST. JOSEPH’S COLLEGE, TUOHY HALL AUDITORIUM
SJC Student Ambassadors-Brooklyn Campus
245 Clinton Ave, Brooklyn, NY
Sponsored by The Nation, St. Joseph’s and AKNY. Co-sponsored by Verso, Jacobin, Campaign for Peace and Democracy. This event is free and open to the public. Group drinks to follow, bar TBA.
https://www.facebook.com/events/679069165555536/

Wednesday, May 27 • 7:00pm
Christos comes to Astoria!
Kefalos Society of America, Inc.
20-41 Steinway St, Astoria, NY
[the meeting will be in Greek]
https://www.facebook.com/events/1428076744177653/

FOR NEW YORK
Also see Left Forum panels described below:

 

LEFT FORUM 2015 will take place from May 29th-31st at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York, 524 W. 59th Street in New York City. Registration and full conference information is at available here. Christos will be on two Left Forum panels:

Healthcare Restructuring: Neoliberalism and the Assault on the Social Wage 
Saturday, May 30, 10am-11:50am, Rm. 1.69. Chair, Martha Livingston; Panelists, Christos Giovanopoulos, Sean Petty, Martha Kuhl, Adam Gaffney, Mark Dudzic. Sponsored by Physicians for a National Health Program-NY Metro Chapter.

“From the Greek Streets: Grassroots Resistance to Authority” 
Saturday, May 30, 5:10-7:00pm, Room 1.123
Chair, Athena Hassiotis; Panelists, Christos Giovanopoulos and Sarah Leonard, Senior Editor, The Nation.
Sponsored by The Nation, Jacobin, Verso Books, Campaign for Peace and Democracy

BALTIMORE:
Thursday, May 28 • 7:30 pm
Come meet Christos in Baltimore! He will be joined by Peter Bratsis and Kostis Papantonakis.
RED EMMA’S
30 W North Ave, Baltimore, MD
https://www.facebook.com/events/1639779432922689/

 

SAN FRANCISCO and OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA : June 4-6.  Thursday, June 4  @ 7:00pm

From The Greek Streets: Grassroots Resistance – Self Organization – Solidarity

OAKSTOP

1721 Broadway, Oakland, California 94612

https://www.facebook.com/events/794145237343876/

 

SEATTLE:

Sunday, June 7 • 7:00 p.m.
Come meet Christos in Seattle!
UNIVERSITY TEMPLE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
1415 NE 43rd St., Seattle, WA
https://www.facebook.com/events/848135858612770/

CHICAGO:
“Chicago to Greece: Building Social Movements Against Austerity”
Thursday, June 11 @ 6pm
FORUM AT JANE ADDAMS HULL HOUSE MUSEUM
800 S. Halsted St., Chicago, IL
https://www.facebook.com/events/1446672965642762/

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Κυπρος: Tουρκοκυπριακες Εκλογες 2015

Τι Προοπτικες Φερνουν τα Αποτελεσματα των Εκλογων των Τουρκοκυπριων;

Το αρθρο αυτο δημοσιευτηκε στην εφημεριδα “Χαραυγη” στις 25 Απριλιου, 2015.

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Του Σωτήρη Βλάχου
Τα αποτελέσματα του πρώτου γύρου των εκλογών στην τουρκοκυπριακή κοινότητα ξέσκισαν σαν αστραπή το σκοτεινό τοπίο των κυπριακών προοπτικών.
Το 70% που συγκέντρωσαν οι Ακιντζί, Σιμπέρ, και Οζερσάυ, υποψήφιοι που στάθηκαν καθαρά υπέρ της λύσης, αντανακλά μια σαφέστατη αλλαγή.
Η απαισιοδοξία στην οποία ήταν βυθισμένοι οι Τουρκοκύπριοι, δίνει την θέση της σε αναζωπυρωμένες προσδοκίες. Ο Ακιντζί που θα «τρέξει» με τον Εθνικιστή Έρογλου στον δεύτερο γύρο των εκλογών, κατέγραψε ήδη ποσοστό του 60% σε σφυγμομέτρηση την επόμενη των εκλογών,
Ο Ακιντζί δεν είναι ένα τυχαίος τουρκοκύπριος πολιτικός. Είναι ο άνθρωπος που σαν δήμαρχος της μισής Λευκωσίας που έλεγχαν απόλυτα ο Ντενκάς και οι στρατηγοί της Τουρκίας, κατάφερε να συνεννοηθεί με τον Λέλλο Δημητριάδη στο κτίσιμο του αποχετευτικού της μοιρασμένης πόλις. Ήταν ο πολιτικός που μαζί με τον Ταλάτ στάθηκε στην εξέδρα του συλλαλητηρίου που οργάνωσε η Πλατφόρμα «Αυτή η Χώρα Είναι Δική μας» στις 27 Φεβρουαρίου του 2003, του μεγαλύτερου συλλαλητηρίου που γνώρισε ποτέ το νησί Κύπρος στην ιστορία του, το οποίο απαίτησε την απομάκρυνση του κυρίαρχου για δεκαετίες Ντενκτάς και την επανένωση της Κύπρου.
Δώδεκα χρόνια από τότε και οι περισσότεροι ελληνοκύπριοι δεν γνωρίζουν ακόμα τίποτε για αυτό το τεράστιο γεγονός. Ούτε για την Πλατφόρμα Αυτή η Χώρα Είναι δική μας που ένωσε όλο τον συνδικαλιστικό χώρο και όλα τα κόμματα της αντιπολίτευσης, σχεδόν αποκλειστικά αριστερά κόμματα.
Δώδεκα χρόνια μετά οι περισσότεροι ελληνοκύπριου δεν γνωρίζουν ότι στο συλλαλητήριο στις 27 Φεβρουαρίου 2003 η τουρκοκυπριακή κοινότητα σχεδόν στο σύνολο της, ήταν σε απόλυτη διάσταση, στα όρια της βίαιης σύγκρουσης, με την εθνικιστική Ντεκτασική ηγεσία που θεωρούσε εμπόδιο για τη λύση. Και ότι ο Ακιτζί, μαζί με τον Ταλάτ, στεκόταν στην εξέδρα.
Πολλά φυσικά χρόνια έχουν περάσει από τότε, στα περισσότερα από τα οποία ο Ακιντζί παράμεινε στην αφάνεια. Ξαναεμφανίζεται σήμερα κάτω από συνθήκες που οι ελληνοκύπριοι, ειδικά η ελληνοκυπριακή Αριστερά, πρέπει να λάβουν πολύ σοβαρά υπόψη.
Η Τουρκοκυπριακή εξέγερση του 2002-3 πυροδοτήθηκε όταν ο Ερτογάν, σε απόλυτη σύγκρουση με τους στρατιωτικούς τότε, έκανε μια σαρωτική νίκη στις εκλογές του 2002. Μια νίκη που για τους τουρκοκύπριους σήμαινε ότι ο στρατός δεν μπορούσε να κινηθεί πια εναντίων τους, την ίδια ώρα που η προοπτική ένταξής της Κύπρου στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση διασφάλιζε ότι οι πιο ακραίοι τουλάχιστον ελληνοκύπριοι εθνικιστές ήταν παροπλισμένοι.
Σήμερα, σε συνθήκες σχεδόν απελπισίας από την εθνικιστική διακυβέρνηση Έρογλου, όπως πριν δώδεκα χρόνια με την διακυβέρνηση Ντενκτάς, ξαναδημιουργείται πλαίσιο μέσα στο οποίο οι τουρκοκύπριοι νιώθουν ότι μπορούν να κινηθούν. Σημαντικό στοιχείο αυτού του νέου σκηνικού αποτελεί η νέα Ελληνική κυβέρνηση.
Οι σαφείς δηλώσεις της για την ανάγκη ειρήνης, την ανάγκη διευθέτησης του Κυπριακού μέσα στα πλαίσια της Διζωνικής, Δικοινοτικής Ομοσπονδίας, οι επαφές Τσίπρα στην Κύπρο με τουρκοκύπριους αλλά και η φωτογραφία της Κωνσταντοπούλου που καταθέτει στεφάνι στον τάφο του Καβάζογλου να διασχίζει το διαδίκτυο, καταγράφηκαν από την κοινότητα με ένα ξεκάθαρο τρόπο.

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Οι νέες συνθήκες βγάζουν τον Ακιτζί ξανά στην επιφάνεια. Η δήλωση του για άνοιγμα της Αμμοχώστου, όπως και η δραματική ομιλία του την νύκτα των εκλογών για την ανάγκη λύσης για να μην περάσουν οι νέες γενιές αυτά που πέρασαν οι παλιότερες, βάζουν τεράστιες ευθύνες στον ίδιο αλλά και στους Ελληνοκύπριους διαπραγματευτές.
Ο Εθνικιστής Έρογλου, όπως και ο Ντενκτάς πιο παλιά, παραμερίστηκε όχι από τους παλληκαρισμούς του Αναστασιάδη και των αντίστοιχων τους εθνικιστών στην ελληνοκυπριακή κοινότητα, αλλά από την τουρκοκυπριακή κοινότητα, που ιστορικά πάντα αγνοήθηκε από τους ελληνοκύπριους. Όπως και πριν δώδεκα χρόνια, οι διεθνείς συγκυρίες, και πιο συγκεκριμένα οι εξελίξεις σε Τουρκία και Ελλάδα, ήταν καθοριστικές.
Σε αυτό το κύμα των ξαφνικών και ραγδαίων αλλαγών, πρέπει να σταθεί η ελληνοκυπριακή Αριστερά, να μιλήσει στις ψυχές των τουρκοκυπρίων και να δώσει στις εξελίξεις χαρακτήρα μη αναστρέψιμο.

 

* Ο Σωτηρης Βλαχος γραφει για τις εφημεριδες “Χαραυγη” και “Γνωμη”.

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In “FIRST WE TAKE MANHATTAN” Despina Lalaki talks about the dynamic of forming left alliances in communities on the other side of the Atlantic.

FIRST WE TAKE MANHATTAN…

By Despina Lalaki

 

First We Take Manhattan Greek Left and New York Left groups rallying together

First We Take Manhattan
Greek Left and American Left groups rallying together in New York

Global Cities and Diasporic Networks in the aftermath of Syriza’s Victory

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by Despina Lalaki   March 24, 2015

Since the pressures of international financial capital and its subservient political elites will continue with the same if not greater intensity, it is also certain that a new cycle of social mobilization in Greece and the rest of Europe will begin again. Today, when social movements are “internationalized” mainly through the internet, what role could the communities of the Greek diaspora play in faraway cities, such as New York, cities of great importance for the flow and concentration of financial capital that are registered in our collective imaginary for every possible reason other than their role in the history of social movements?

Since the elections of 2012, the meteoric rise of Syriza has generated a wave of enthusiasm – at home and abroad – expressed by the proliferation of grassroots groups and organizations rallying in Syriza’s support, against the rise of fascism in Greece and Europe at large and the authoritarian practices of the Greek government such as the overnight shutdown of ERT (Greece’s public broadcasting network). In what felt almost like a chain reaction, nearly every European capital appeared that it would get its own Syriza branch while smaller Greek radical left parties such as Antarsya (Front of the Greek Anticapitalist Left) followed suit organizing marches, protests, conferences and open public discussions in universities and other forums.

On the other side of the Atlantic

The  organizing force behind all these rather small groups has been diaspora Greeks who have either lived and worked abroad for decades or migrated recently as a result of the economic pressures back home. The phenomenon has been repeated even across the Atlantic. In February 2012 a gathering at Zuccotti Park in New York City, in response to what was meant to be an international solidarity action under the cry “We Are All Greeks” gave rise to the establishment of three different groups: AKNY (Left Movement NY) – Greece Solidarity Movement, Syriza-NY and Antarsya-US.

The impact these groups, as collective subjects, may have in the broader fight for social change is certainly unclear. Yet, it appears as if they work like small centripetal forces around which various fragments of the European and American Left flock, inspired by the historical possibilities the rise of a Left party in power brings. Similar are the effects of the rise of Podemos which, transcending the local and particular circumstances of Spain, has generated trans-national networks and organizations enabled by the presence of Spaniards abroad. Whether these groups – all rather diverse in their practices, organizational structure, ideological orientation and immediate goals and objectives – will be able to galvanize greater movements back home or abroad remains to be seen. Some facets of their particular conditions, however, beg for more attention: the diasporic aspect, already mentioned, as constitutive force of their organization, and a strong urban element which, on various levels, plays an important role in the emergence of a new global political geography.

In our days, social movements’ actions and radical political changes, thanks to the internet and the social media, rapidly reverberate across large geographical scales. The movement of the squares of 2011, encompassing the indignados in Spain and Greece and Occupy Wall Street in the US, the Egyptian Revolution and the Turkish uprising, the revolts in Tunisia and Syria, the Hong Kong or Sao Paulo protests, the rise of Podemos in Spain and Syriza’s ascendance to power are all closely interconnected in our political imaginary. A global struggle for real democracy is taking place and in the process a global change of consciousness is well under way, extending far beyond the political, geographical and ideological spaces of the cities which first ignited it.

The urban element and the Global Cities according to

S. Sassen

The historically-proven importance of the urban element in constituting social movements once again appears to play a great role. Global cities – a term largely popularized by sociologist Saskia Sassen in her 1991 book The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo – recognized as such primarily for their importance as nodes in the global economic system, constitute also relational conduits where movements connect and develop. Global are the cities where not only financial capital meets and decision-making institutions are located but also sites where new actual physical social relationships are forged and in which potential protesters, activists and radical scholars are implicated. Athens, Cairo, New York, Istanbul or Madrid set a new global political agenda and for that reason alone can be indexed as ‘global cities.’

Diasporic communities and social movements

Global cities occupy a central position in the transnational social, cultural and political networks, networks which are made up of nomadic social actors, various kinds of diasporas – small-minded nationals as well as internationally-minded professionals, workers, scholars, researchers, activists and so forth. Transnational social movements, as well, are enabled by electronic networks and weak-tie connections which facilitate the transmission of information but are enacted by social actors on the ground, individuals in direct contact forging actual relationships and strong ties while connecting and coordinating their actions. Individuals and groups moving within and between large urban centers form nodes in relational networks that can connect struggles over distant lands.

AKNY, Antarsya-US, and Syriza-NY, organizations with which I am most familiar, are diaspora-based organizations working not only to popularize the struggles of the Greek people back home but to build connections and solidarity with organizations, groups and individuals that fight similar fights in New York City and the US. New York, home to a large Greek diaspora, is also home to various forces of the American radical Left which have been closely following the recent political developments across the Atlantic. Greece has ignited the Left’s political imagination around the world, often to the astonishment of the people of the Greek Left who may be more reserved or more cautious in their optimism at the moment. From New York City, the epicenter of world capitalism and source of tremendous symbolic power, modest diasporic networks can capitalize on the prestige that the city emanates, increasing the visibility of their struggles, expanding their influence and potentially building strong counter-hegemonic organizational structures. If nothing else, the results of the recent negotiations between the Greek government and the Troika suggest that international solidarity and mobilization may be key to not only avoiding further capitulation but to developing a strong front against the continuous onslaughts of finance capital in Greece and beyond.

New York, for instance, thousands of miles away from any European city, for a long time loomed large in European’s imagination, mostly as a hub of high lifestyle, high culture and conspicuous consumption. Yet, the several hundred people who, in 2011, gathered, rather spontaneously, at the small ‘privately owned public square’ of Zuccotti – formerly called Liberty Plaza Park – reminded us at whose expense that lifestyle was forged and specified exactly how few people it concerned. Symbols, along with changing consciousness, or probably because of it, are subject to change as well. On January 22nd, when Pablo Iglesias, the General Secretary of Podemos addressed Syriza’s supporters at the party’s preelection rally at Omonia Square by opening his speech with Leonard Cohen’s: “First We Take Manhattan, Then We Take Berlin…” might have had in mind something along these lines.

 

Note: This article was previously published in Greek in Ενθέματα Αυγής, https://enthemata.wordpress.com, March 15, 2015.

Despina Lalaki is a Sociologist and Visiting Research Fellow at The Center for the Study of Culture, Technology and Work, CUNY, The Graduate Center.

 

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ΜΙΑ ΞΕΧΑΣΜΕΝΗ ΤΡΑΓΙΚΗ ΙΣΤΟΡΙΑ…

ΜΙΑ ΞΕΧΑΣΜΕΝΗ ΤΡΑΓΙΚΗ ΙΣΤΟΡΙΑ
….μαθηματα μνημης απο Αφρικη

 

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum: One of the art pieces in the museum

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum: One of the art pieces in the museum

 

Του Σωτήρη Βλάχου

Λευκωσια 4/2015

Τον Ιανουάριο του 1990, ο Νέλσον Μαντέλα έστειλε από την φυλακή ένα σημείωμα στους συντρόφους του: «Η εθνικοποίηση των ορυχείων, των τραπεζών και των μονοπωλιακών βιομηχανιών είναι η πολιτική του Αφρικανικού Εθνικού Κογκρέσου και η αλλαγή ή τροποποίηση των απόψεων μας είναι αδιανόητη…» («Το ΔΟΓΜΑ ΤΟΥ ΣΟΚ, η άνοδος του καπιταλισμού της καταστροφής», Ναόμι Κλέιν, σελ. 266).
Μετά από 27 χρόνια φυλάκισης και λίγες μόνο μέρες πριν αποφυλακιστεί, ο Μαντέλα διαβεβαίωνε ότι τίποτε δεν είχε αλλάξει, δεν είχε συμβιβαστεί.
Για τριάντα πέντε χρόνια το αίτημα της εθνικοποίησης των ορυχείων, των τραπεζών και των μονοπωλιακών βιομηχανιών, αποτέλεσε πυρήνα των αιτημάτων του Χάρτη της Ελευθερίας των αγωνιστών του Αφρικάνικου Εθνικού Κογκρέσου.
«Η διαδικασία σύνταξης του ξεκίνησε το 1955, όταν το κόμμα έστειλε 50 χιλιάδες εθελοντές στις πόλεις και στην ύπαιθρο για να συγκεντρώσουν τα ‘αιτήματα για ελευθερία’ του λαού, συνθέτοντας το όραμα για ένα κόσμο μετά το απαρτχάιντ…» (Το ίδιο, σελ. 266)
Τα αιτήματα του λαού υιοθετήθηκαν επίσημα, «στις 26 Ιουνίου του 1955 στο κογκρέσο του λαού… Το πρώτο και πιο προκλητικό αίτημα… ήταν: ‘Ο λαός θα κυβερνήσει’… η συγκέντρωση διαλύθηκε βίαια από την αστυνομία…». (Το ίδιο, σελ. 267)
Από τότε μέχρι την «απελευθέρωση», χιλιάδες αγωνιστές, στελέχη του Αφρικάνικου Εθνικού Κογκρέσου, εξοντώθηκαν από μια από τις πιο βάρβαρες δυνάμεις καταστολής στον πλανήτη. Μόνο και μόνο για να αντικατασταθούν από άλλους. Σπάνια συναντάται πορεία αυταπάρνησης και ηρωισμού σαν αυτή του νέγρικου προλεταριάτου στην πορεία υλοποίησης των στόχων του κόμματος του.
«Στις 11 Φεβρουαρίου του 1990, δυο εβδομάδες αφότου έγραψε το σημείωμα, ο Μαντέλα αποφυλακίστηκε, όντας ότι πιο κοντινό σε ένα εν ζωή Άγιο υπήρχε σε ολόκληρο τον πλανήτη.» (Το ίδιο, σελ. 269)
Την χρονιά όμως του 1990 που αποφυλακίστηκε, «Ο κόσμος ήταν εντελώς διαφορετικός από ότι είκοσι εφτά χρόνια πριν… Ενόσω ο Μαντέλα βρισκόταν στην φυλακή, είχαν πραγματοποιηθεί και είχαν καταπνιγεί σοσιαλιστικές επαναστάσεις σε ολόκληρο τον κόσμο… Στα τέλη της δεκαετίας του 1980 και στις αρχές της δεκαετίας του 1990 έπεσε το τείχος του Βερολίνου, έγινε η σφαγή στην πλατεία Τιανανμεν, και κατάρρευσε ο κομμουνισμός…» (Το ίδιο, σελ. 269-270)
Η χρονιά του 1990 σημάδευε πια μια εποχή όπου ο νεοφιλελευθερισμός επικρατούσε απόλυτα και μια χούφτα ευρωαμερικάνικες τράπεζες έλεγχαν τις οικονομίες του κόσμου.
«Όταν η κυβέρνηση προσπάθησε να υλοποιήσει τα Οράματα του χάρτη της Ελευθερίας, ανακάλυψε ότι η εξουσία βρισκόταν στα χέρια άλλων… (Το ίδιο, σελ. 282).
Σε κάθε κίνηση για άνοιγμα δουλειών, κρατική βοήθεια, κοινωνικές παροχές, σε κάθε τι που δεν άρεσε ή «κάθε φορά που ένας κορυφαίος αξιωματούχος του κόμματος υπονοούσε ότι ίσως να εφαρμοζόταν ο Χάρτης της Ελευθερίας, οι αγορές αντιδρούσαν με ένα σοκ, προκαλώντας την ελεύθερη πτώση του ραντ (του νομίσματος της χώρας)». (Το ίδιο, σελ. 282).
«Ο Μαντέλα αναγνώρισε την ύπαρξη της παγίδας το 1997…» (Το ίδιο, σελ. 283).
«Στην πρώτη του μετεκλογική ομιλία σαν Προέδρου, ο Μαντέλα πήρε προσεκτικά αποστάσεις από τις προηγούμενες δηλώσεις του υπέρ των εθνικοποιήσεων. ‘Στην οικονομική πολιτική μας… δεν υπάρχει ούτε μια αναφορά για εθνικοποιήσεις, και αυτό δεν είναι τυχαίο… Δεν έχουμε ούτε ένα σύνθημα που να μας συνδέει με την μαρξιστική ιδεολογία’». (Το ίδιο, σελ. 284).
Το Αφρικάνικο Εθνικό Κογκρέσο πήρε την πολιτική εξουσία και είχε το δικό του νόμισμα. Δεν έλεγχε όμως οτιδήποτε άλλο σε επίπεδο οικονομίας. Και έχοντας διανύσει μια εθνική πορεία αντίστασης απομονωμένη από άλλα κινήματα, σε μια εποχή γενικής ήττας, ήταν καταδικασμένο.
Το Αφρικάνικο Εθνικό Κογκρέσο με την απίστευτη πορεία ηρωισμού και αυταπάρνησης, κατέληξε να κυβερνά εκ μέρους των συμφερόντων των διεθνών τραπεζών και των μονοπωλίων της χώρας, καταδικάζοντας τα οράματα, τις ελπίδες και τις ζωές εκατοmμυρίων ανθρώπων.

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