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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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
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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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Panagiotis Sotiris: “The Crackdown on Golden Dawn”


ON THE NEED FOR THE LEFT
TO REGAIN THE INITIATIVE

Comment by Panagiotis Sotiris


We must make sure that the Left is not simply voicing anger and protest, but also offering a radical alternative narrative for Greek society, transforming the subaltern classes into a collective subject of resistance and emancipation, a new ‘historic bloc.’

Panagiotis Sotiris is a professor of political philosophy at the University of the Aegean and Mitilene.

Panagiotis Sotiris is Professor of Political Philosophy at University of the Aegean and Mitilene.
He may be contacted at psot@soc.aegean.gr. Photo from tjen-folket.no.

For many people in Greece – including the writer of this comment – watching the Golden Dawn leadership in handcuffs, with only a handful of supporters protesting their arrests, was a happy moment. A neo-Nazi organization, with a long history of attacks, beatings and cold-blooded murders, is finally accused of being exactly what it is: a criminal organization. Although a small comfort to all those who suffered from Golden Dawn’s attacks, recent developments are indeed a victory for anti-fascists and the mass movement against Golden Dawn, especially after the murder of 34-year-old Pavlos Fyssas, an anti-fascist rapper in a working-class suburb of Piraeus.

However, the decision by the Greek government and the Greek judiciary to finally bring charges against Golden Dawn should not make us forget the responsibility of successive Greek governments and pro-austerity parties for the rise of Golden Dawn. Both New Democracy and PASOK not only tolerated for a long period the activity of Golden Dawn, but also took advantage of its rise in order to shift the political debate to the right. Golden Dawn is being penalized but the agenda of the far-right has become part of the political mainstream. Racist anti-immigrant policies, authoritarian attacks on protesters in the name of “law and order” and anticommunism are the trademarks of the Greek government. In the name of the theory of the “two extremes,” both the radical Left and anarchist groups haven been attacked. Pundits in big-business controlled media have suggested that a more “serious” and modernized version of the Far-Right could be part of a potential government coalition against the Left and anti-austerity movements…

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Insider Blows Open Greek Neo-Nazi Operations

Inside Golden Dawn and
Its “Model Chapter”

We translate an interview with a former member of the Greek neo-Nazi organization, published last week in ETHNOS newspaper, Athens. The insider lays bare the party command structures and tells of organized violence and racketeering activities by its local chapter in the Piraeus district of Nikaia.

UPDATE 9/25: Greek press reporting Golden Dawn has shut down and “emptied out” its offices in Nikaia and one other location, possibly the beginning of a “domino effect.”

Athens and Piraeus. The district of Nikaia is to the west of Piraeus and east of the island of Salamina (Salamis), near the Keratsini neighborhood where Pavlos Fyssas was assassinated.

Athens and Piraeus. District of Nikaia (pop. 93,000) is east of Salamina (Salamis) island
and west of Piraeus, near Keratsini neighborhood where Pavlos Fyssas was assassinated.
CLICK MAP FOR FULL STORY

INTRODUCTION:

Since the Greek elections of June 2012 a neo-Nazi party known as Golden Dawn has held 18 seats in the country’s parliament. Under its long-time leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos, the group has been implicated in dozens of organized acts of violence against immigrants, leftists, anarchists, artists, gays and others.

On the evening of September 17, 2013, Pavlos Fyssas, known internationally as the hip-hop artist KillahP, and six of his friends were surrounded by an estimated forty unknown assailants on a street in a neighborhood of Piraeus. Fyssas was stabbed twice, once near the heart and once in the abdomen. He died soon after police arrived to the scene. The police arrested a suspect associated with Golden Dawn, Giorgos Roupakias. Roupakias has admitted to committing the killing. The Golden Dawn leadership has denied any involvement of their party.

In the days that followed, tens of thousands took to the streets in anti-fascist marches and rallies held in Greece, but also in European and U.S. cities. The protesters adopted a defiant slogan from a song by KillahP, “You think I’m scared? As if!” For the first time the Greek government, led by the New Democracy party, opened an investigation into thirty-two cases of violence attributed to Golden Dawn. Since then, two top police officials alleged to have Golden Dawn connections have resigned suddenly due to “personal reasons,” according to the BBC.

In an earlier incident attributed to Golden Dawn in the week before the death of Fyssas, on September 12, an estimated 50 men in helmets and armed with clubs staged a surprise assault on 20 members of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) in the neighborhood of Perama, resulting in the hospitalization of nine victims. On September 20, Ethnos newspaper of Athens published the following interview with an unidentified former member of the Golden Dawn chapter in the Piraeus neighborhood of Nikaia, which is considered the “model” for all other Golden Dawn chapters. The interview is one of the first public accounts of the organization’s internal workings by a former insider. The interviewee implicates Golden Dawn’s Nikaia chapter in both the Fyssas assassination and the Perama attack.

This translation from the Greek is provided by Greece Solidarity Movement (AKNY.org), New York. Interpolations in the original text by Ethnos are in parentheses, those by the translators are in square brackets.


“You think we’re scared? As if!”


GOLDEN DAWN DID BUSINESS WITH… PAKISTANIS?

When did you become a member of Golden Dawn?
I started from the first [public] meeting held by the local chapter in Nikaia, which was called for via Facebook. They said they needed help because some Pakistanis were going to attack their offices in Nikaia. That was the first time I went. I remember it was on a Thursday and I had gone to the office asking how I could sign up. I believed in the ideology that wanted a Greece without illegal immigrants, but I didn’t believe in terrorizing violence and beatings. These are two different things. So, I went and signed up. They even issued me a membership card.
How does one become a member?
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MEDITATIONS FROM A GREEK AMERICAN LIVING IN GREECE

By Sia; Edited by Queen Arsem-O’Malley; picked up at youngist.org

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Lysistrata Lyceum

“A country that doesn’t take care of its children is a dead country.” – May 1968

Athina is an Atlantis
of cheap goldshops and arid goldmines,
firewood funerals fueling tears of teargas
choked amid a broke power of imagination,
infant whimpers collapsed upon their cradle-grave nation,
adolescent rage pierced by Alexis bullets that have
ricocheted onto the backs of all the yelasta paidia,
their paideia sold to a Common Market of common lessons
on how to think and how to congregate,
where to shit and how to clean up shit
in what the prime mini-master calls our New Greece.

They say utopia is the good place and also no place,
but dystopia is a place. It’s here,
its particulars not yet clear
but the main points etched onto troika memoranda,
making us a pile of shit, suspended in this system,
undesired, undeclared, under its table
until on the table they motion us to a special place,
unimaginable but real and definitely something of our own,
a fit-for-automatons Special Economic Zone,
where we can no longer close our noses
as we pass by open air prisons,
the sweat of migrants pervading spaces of exception(al) myths,
past shipyards and onto superyachts
of privatized isles with submerged fetuses,
no heirs for the patros, no soldiers for the ethnos,
just a multitude of concrete slabs of copulation
screwing doctrines into pipes of accumulation.

So let’s call this what it is, reclaim that fated no from fascist pigs
and fuckin’ strike for fuck’s literal sake,
put an end to this dead-end mode of re-production
and give ‘em that grand ultimatum of extinction:
We don’t get futures? They don’t get kids.
But in fact this the rulers already know and fear,
frantically teaching us that history’s actually not over,
desperate for its reconfigured doses of peripheral plunder,
ignoring the quakes and signs and cries
that bankers seeking bailout bangs can
live their myth in Greece but only until she dies.
Because when solidarity is trumped by polarity,
the greatest weapon of the people is refusing not labor but life itself,
not one more alexis, only patches of atlantis.
Youths of the world, wake up! unite, embrace our Common Deaths.
They give us no futures; we give them no kids.

Sia_photo

Sia, 24, is a first-generation Greek American who studied and organized for five years in Philly before spending this past year working and learning alongside comrades in Athens. She’s moving to New York City in August to begin graduate school in Sociology. Her “Meditations” are thanks to youngist.org

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SAKKAS CASE EXPOSES GREEK GOVERNMENT

A dissident detained indefinitely without trial. A country in the grip of authoritarian rule and emergency decrees. A ruling party contemplating coalition with the Nazis. Hara Kouki and Antonis Vradis sum up the Greek situation in The Guardian, July 4, 2013:


In Greece, Things Move Fast –
Except Justice for Kostas Sakkas

Behind the anarchist’s hunger strike is the tale of his illegal detention. It would have sounded unbelievable in the recent past

By Hara Kouki and Antonis Vradis

A banner before the stage reads, immediate release of Kostas Sakkas, who is on hunger strike

Banner calls for immediate release of Kostas Sakkas, who is on hunger
strike following his illegal imprisonment. Photograph: Nikolas Georgiou/Corbis

What’s in a month? Thursday 4 July marks one calendar month since Kostas Sakkas – a 29-year-old anarchist arrested in Athens in December 2010 and held in prison without a trial since – started a hunger strike, demanding an end to his detention. According to Greek law, pre-trial detentions can extend to 18 months, or 30 in exceptional circumstances. On 4 June, having already reached his legal maximum time in pre-trial detention, Sakkas had it extended by another six months by an Athens court of appeal.

One full month on hunger strike: compared with the pace of wider social developments in recent years, Sakkas’s story looks slow-paced, sluggish even. After all, it took only a few hours for the Greek government to order and then execute the closure of ERT, the state broadcaster. Its decision to lower the gross monthly minimum wage to €586 was equally rapid, along with the selective introduction of a six-day working week and significant cuts to disability benefits – all bringing a lowering of the standard of living for thousands of people. Before that, it took an equally short period of time to cancel out the reform of the 2010 Greek citizenship law that had provided potential access to citizenship for second-generation immigrants, or to begin the Xenios Zeus operation, cracking down on suspected undocumented immigrants and sending them to newly established “holding centres” across the country.

Sakkas had been originally detained as part of the wave of arrests targeting the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire group. While clearly stating his own anarchist convictions, both Sakkas and the group itself have denied his active participation. But whether Sakkas was indeed a member is no longer the question, nor do the juridical authorities seem to care. Sakkas has been held in custody for what is a national record after a series of convictions of Greece by the European court of human rights in 1996 precisely for this type of violation; Epaminondas Korkoneas, the special guard who was eventually convicted for the death of teenager Alexandros Grigoropoulos that sparked the December 2008 riots, was temporarily released during his trial as his own pre-trial maximum had expired.

There may be no rational explanation behind the extension of Sakkas’s pre-trial detention, then. Yet by now this looks like one more exceptional event in the sea of exceptions that make up everyday reality here in Greece. Since May 2010, the majority of austerity-led cuts and redundancies (even if meticulously prepared for in the media discourse) have been announced and executed at a pace that would make it all but impossible for most of those affected to follow them, to express any concerns or, woe betide, dissent against them. Getting used to such a wave of attacks might seem normal; resisting this new normality could even appear to be meaningless, or futile.

What might the motive be that drives the Greek authorities’ decision to trample over the rights of a single dissident, to order the shutdown of its own broadcaster, or to sack public servants overnight? Sakkas’s absurd story may highlight something more alarming than a mere “tough stance” on a self-confessed enemy of the state. In a statement responding to a parliamentary dialogue concerning Sakkas’s case, New Democracy (the main government coalition party) not only didn’t try to defend this unprecedented breach of legality, but instead lashed out against the leftwing main opposition Syriza for defending “any sort of accused who are charged with anarchy and terrorism”. This would have sounded incomprehensible in the very recent past, as would have been the case with the call by Vyron Polydoras, an experienced New Democracy former cabinet member who explicitly called for his party to co-operate with the Nazi party Golden Dawn.

Sakkas’s case encapsulates precisely the nature of the injustice that reigns over daily life in Greece – and further afield. Across Europe, stories of police violence, governmental injustice and intrusion into citizens’ lives are rapidly turning into a banality; an alienation, even an outright rupture between state and society is building up fast. In our fast-moving times, a month feels like a lifetime. For Sakkas, it has become precisely that: he has now put his own life on the line.

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VIDEO: “CRISIS AND THE EUROPEAN LEFT”


AKNY-Greece Solidarity Movement presented an all-star panel on “Crisis and The Left in Europe: Germany, Greece, Spain and Italy” last Sunday at the Left Forum 2013 in New York. With Peter Bratsis, Despina Lalaki, Carlos Frade, Marcus Graetsch and Bruno Gelli. Thanks to New Jersey Video Collective and FanSmiles channel.

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