WHAT IS THE LEFT ALTERNATIVE?
Public Meeting in Astoria – 5pm Sat, Oct 12, 2013
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!
Historian, Columbia University
Writer of the documentary film “Greek American Radicals”
AKNY-Greece Solidarity Movement
Asst. Professor of Political Science, CUNY
Member, SYRIZA NY
• 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