Greece Draws Up Drachma Plans

 

Greece draws drahmas

Greece draws up drachma plan

 

Greece draws up drachma plans, prepares to miss IMF payment
‘We are a Left-wing government. If we have to choose between a default to the IMF or a default to our own people, it is a no-brainer,’ says senior Greek official

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11513341/Greece-draws-up-drachma-plans-prepares-to-miss-IMF-payment.html Continue reading

Print format (read all)

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.

Print format (read all)

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.

Print format (read all)

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

[ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ ] — [ PDF στα Eλληνικά – FLYERPOSTER ]

[ FACEBOOK ] — [ FLYER IN ENGLISH ] — [ POSTER ] — [ CONTACT ]

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

Print format (read all)

Nazi Golden Dawn Murders Activist in Greece!

Statement by AKNY & Syriza – New York

Organize against Fascism and Austerity
Protest Greek Government at United Nations
5-7 pm Friday, Sept. 27

AT DAG HAMMARSKJOLD PLAZA, EAST 47th STREET AND SECOND AVE.
On the occasion of Greek government junior leader Venizelos’
Speech to the United Nations General Assembly
Banner from 18-Sept-2013 demonstration in response to murder of 34-year-old Pavlos Fyssas by Golden Dawn thugs in Piraeus, Greece.

“34-year-old dead; today fascism dies.” Banner from 18-Sept-2013 demonstration in response to murder of 34-year-old Pavlos Fyssas by Golden Dawn thugs in Piraeus, Greece. Photo: Δρομογράφος

Despite the near universal condemnation of the murder of Fyssas, there are fundamental connections between the neo-liberal regime of the New Democracy/PASOK coalition and the efforts of Golden Dawn on the streets.

On September 18th, 34 year old hip-hop artist and left activist Pavlos Fyssas was assassinated by members of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn. He was cornered in the working class neighborhood of Keratsini, in Piraeus, by approximately 30 thugs. As police looked on, a car pulled up and a well-known member of Golden Dawn jumped out and stabbed the victim; the coroner would later attest that this was not an amateur hit given the two strategically placed stabs to the chest and an upside-down L shape cut to the abdomen.

The reactions to the murder have been predictable. Golden Dawn has denied any connection to the assassination. Members of the governing coalition have condemned the violence but continue to re-broadcast their argument against the ‘two extremes’, that the far right and far left are threats to legal order and stability in Greece – thus equating the neo-Nazis with those on the left, especially SYRIZA, the leading opposition party of the Coalition of the Radical Left.
Continue reading

Print format (read all)

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?
Continue reading

Print format (read all)

Costas Panayotakis in the NYTimes Examiner

GREECE AND WEIMAR

Originally Published in NYTimes eXaminer
By Costas Panayotakis
Above: Anti-Fascist demonstration in Athens, Greece. Photo by NYT eXaminer.

Above: Anti-Fascist demonstration in Athens, Greece. Photo by NYT eXaminer.

The economic crisis, political and economic polarization, and the meteoric rise of the Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party/criminal gang has given rise to a lot of comparisons between today’s Greece and the Weimar Republic, the period of German history in the 1920s that led to the rise of Hitler. Roger Cohen’s rehearsal of this theme(i) in The New York Times this week does not really add any insights to this conversation but simply advances a number of contradictory and misleading claims.

For example, while the column is entitled “Why Greece Isn’t Weimar,” Cohen begins by suggesting that the Greece/Weimar analogy is a valid one, attributing the rise of “violent extremism” in today’s Greece to the same ingredients of “national humiliation, economic disaster, high immigration, political division and international tutelage” that, in Cohen’s mind, can best be understood by “[l]ook[ing] no further than Weimar Germany.” By the end of his column, however, Cohen completely reverses himself by claiming that “[t]hrough Europe, Greece has been saved from the fate of Weimar.” In this respect, Cohen thinks, Greece today is more comparable to Germany after the war, when Europe, allowed Germany to “c[o]me back” by “help[ing] usher [it] from its cataclysmic ‘zero hour’ of 1945”.

Anyone even vaguely familiar with the history of post-war Germany knows that this was a period of rapid economic reconstruction that led to Germany’s current status of an economic superpower within Europe. Only someone who naively accepts the Greek government’s narrative about Greece’s supposed economic recovery would seriously think that today’s Greece is closer to post-war Germany than to the Weimar Republic. As Cohen himself is aware, unemployment rates in Greece have skyrocketed to record levels, indeed levels surpassing the unemployment rate the United States experienced at the peak of the 1930s Depression. And yet Cohen assures us that Greece’s “economy is turning slowly” and that “the most acute phase of Greece’s economic crisis has passed.” The fact that Greece’s economy is still shrinking, but only by 4% a year, and that it will take decades for unemployment rates to return to normal levels of course explains why, as Cohen recognizes, “the most acute phase of [Greece’s] political trial is upon it.” In other words, it is easier to buy into the Greek government’s economic boosterism if you are a New York Times reporter than if you are an average person in Greece who, as Cohen himself admits, has yet to feel any improvement in their lives.
Continue reading

Print format (read all)

AKNY – Stop Neo-Nazi Violence After Murder of Pavlos Fissas

Support the Anti-Fascist Struggle in Greece

SIGN THE PETITION TO GOVERNMENT OF GREECE
By AKNY-Greece Solidarity Movement (www.AKNY.org)
& Syriza-U.S.F., New York (www.syriza-ny.org)
Stop Golden Dawn PetitionAround midnight on the 17th of September in Amfiali, a working class district of Piraeus, Pavlos Fyssas, a 34 year old musician, anti-fascist and community organizer, was stabbed to death by a gang of neo-Nazis, members of Golden Dawn. Pavlos was from a working class family, and, like his father, a member of the Metalworkers Union employed in the Perama Industrial Zone.

Based on eyewitness reports, Pavlos and his friends were chased down the street and assaulted by up to 25 neo-Nazi thugs. One of them pulled up in a car and stabbed Pavlos Fyssas three times while a group of police stood idly by, even discouraging onlookers from getting involved.

This last murderous strike against a well-known anti-fascist is neither random nor isolated. A Senior Consultant of Nikaia Hospital, where Pavlos died, said “yesterday’s murderers have been training on the bodies of immigrants for three years.” The man arrested for the murder, a GD member, was known in the area for his participation in these kinds of attacks.

The murder comes shortly after a similar attack on September 12th, when about 50 black-shirted supporters of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn group with crowbars and bats enhanced with nails and screws brutally attacked Greek Communist Party (KKE) and Communist Youth (KNE) members in the dock-side district of Perama near Piraeus. The unprovoked attack led to the serious injury and hospitalization of eight of them. Among the injured was Sotiris Poulikoyiannis, President of Pavlos’s union.

The attack once again was neither spontaneous nor haphazard. In a video taken on August 8th, still available at the GD’s official website, Golden Dawn MPs boast of their plans to use violence against workers who had been organizing against the bosses’ job cuts. So far no-one has been charged for these crimes.

AKNY – Greece Solidarity Movement, and Syriza- U.S.F. New York, denounce the systematic and well-orchestrated attempts on the part of Golden Dawn to cultivate a climate of violence and civil war. We stand with the hundreds of thousands who flooded the streets of Athens and many other cities all over Greece in the days after the attacks in protest against violence and the complicity of the police.

Compounding the tolerance of Golden Dawn by the ruling coalition, indeed its very encouragement of their actions through allowing police collaboration with GD thugs, is their ideological campaign to blame violence on “two extremes,” falsely equating violent fascists on the one hand with millions of workers and their allies fighting against the troika-imposed austerity, which the ruling coalition supports, on the other. It is this austerity against which teachers, other public sector workers and millions of other workers are striking this week. It is no coincidence that the fascist attacks happen right as the anti-austerity movement renews and deepens itself.

Please sign at Change.org to demand the prosecution of Golden Dawn to the fullest extent of the law, and to stand in solidarity with the people of Greece and all the people around the world fighting against fascism and for social justice and freedom of expression.

AKNY- Greece Solidarity Movement (www.AKNY.org)
Syriza-U.S.F., New York (www.syriza-ny.org)

Print format (read all)

AKNY Petition In Support of Greek Teachers’ Strike

Support Striking Greek Teachers!

Greek teachers and other public and private workers are under terrible assault.
We all have a stake in their successful resistance.
SIGN THE PETITION
To:
* Greek Federation of Secondary Education State School Teachers (OLME)
* AKNY-Greece Solidarity Movement and Syriza-New York
We Stand in Solidarity with Striking Teachers
and Other Public Employees in Greece
Statement by AKNY-Greece Solidarity Movement

(Web: http://www.akny.org/ and on Facebook).
and Syriza-New York (Web: http://www.syriza-ny.org/ and on Facebook.)

September 17, 2013

We stand in solidarity with OLME, the secondary education teachers union in Greece, which has launched a five–day rolling strike as of September 16th, following the decision of the teachers’ general assemblies. At the end of each five-day strike the teachers’ general assemblies will take stock of the situation and then decide on the course of the strike action.

Teachers here in the United States face a similar assault, with teacher layoffs, school closings, and relentless testing of students which serves to justify attacks on teachers rather than actually supporting and improving education.

In addition, we stand in solidarity with the many other public employees in Greece who are also going on strike to resist brutal government-imposed austerity measures, including staff at the social insurance funds, the state employment agency and labor ministry, and hospital workers.

The situation in public schools in Greece is dramatic. The “Troika” (the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank) and the cooperating Greek government of Samaras (New Democracy) and Venizelos (PASOK), using the economic crisis as a pretext, and without any communication with the interested parties, have taken a series of harsh measures such as
• 20% reduction of the number of teachers in secondary education since June 2013.
• Closing down of 102 Vocational Education Schools
• Suspension and possible dismissal of 2,500 Vocational Education Teachers
• 47% reduction of spending on education by 2016 compared to 2008
• compulsory transfer of 5,000 teachers to primary education and administration posts

These measures aim at privatizing part of vocational education, introducing apprenticeship as a form of minor/under-age employment replacing education process and at establishing a harsh, examination-centered system in all forms/grades of upper secondary education, forcing students to seek private tuition outside school and leading to school dropouts.

We support the striking teachers in Greece and demand that public education not be sacrificed to comply with the wishes of the “Troika.” The Greek teachers and the Greek people do not stand alone in this struggle. This struggle is not just for public education but also for workers dignity, civil rights and liberty and true democracy itself here in the United States and around the world.

NOTE: OLME intends to create a Solidarity Fund to support teachers in strike. You can contact OLME (@OLMEGR) at the details below.
OLME-GREEK FEDERATION OF SECONDARY EDUCATION STATE SCHOOL TEACHERS
2, Kornarou & Ermou Str.
Athens (10563), GREECE
Tel: 0030 210 3230073-3221255
Fax: 0030 210 3311338-3227382
www.olme.gr
E-mail: olme@otenet.gr, and interolme@yahoo.gr

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Print format (read all)

SAMARAS IN NEW YORK AT UNITED NATIONS

Emergency Protest Against Greek
Prime Minister TODAY (August 9th)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

GREEK AMERICANS AND SUPPORTERS PROTEST
PRIME MINISTER SAMARAS VISIT IN NEW YORK
(See Facebook Invite)


On Friday, August 9 at 5pm in the Peace Park at 42nd Street and First Avenue in Manhattan, across the street from the United Nations, two groups are staging an emergency protest in solidarity with the ongoing struggles of the Greek people and against the visiting prime minister of Greece, Antonis Samaras. At that time, Samaras is scheduled to be meeting at the United Nations with UN General Secretary Ban-Ki Moon. “We want the media and the public to know what the Greek people know unfortunately all too well,” according to the protest statement from AKNY – Greece Solidarity Movement and SYRIZA-New York.

The groups’ statement blasts Samaras for leading a government that “devastates the economy, panders to the neo-Nazis, and destroys democracy.” Both groups have been active in left politics in New York since early 2012. They blame the austerity policies imposed by Greek governments, in concert with EU and IMF demands, for a staggering 28% unemployment rate. “Growing numbers of people can no longer afford to use hospitals,” according to their statement. “Poverty, hunger, homelessness and despair are growing rapidly. Suicide rates are skyrocketing.”

The statement continues, “The Samaras government has become increasingly authoritarian and repressive. It has moved the country toward the extreme right, legitimizing the neo-Nazi, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic and anti-gay Golden Dawn Party by pandering to its anti-immigrant slogans. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the international media have documented the fact that Samaras’ conservative party, the police, and the judiciary have all turned a blind eye to the rise and escalation of criminal acts of Golden Dawn, which has grown rapidly as a result of the social havoc that austerity policies are causing. We are witnessing the evisceration of Greek democracy: extreme police violence against protesters, holding camps for immigrants, torture of prisoners, arrests of journalists… Golden Dawn refers to Jews as ‘vermin,’ and a Golden Dawn member of parliament reads aloud from the anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion with no protest from the government. ”

“As bailouts for the rich and budget cuts for the rest are now becoming adopted in other European countries, the U.S. and beyond, it has become clear that what is happening in Greece affects us all. For this reason, we are here to express solidarity to the Greek people and to affirm that their struggle against Samaras’ brutal austerity policies is also our struggle.”

Please DOWNLOAD the Statement:
AKNY and Syriza-NY Protest Samaras at UN - 9 Aug 2013

Print format (read all)