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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  December 2008

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE December 2008

Subject:

Rebellion in Greece - Great Op-Ed in Haaretz

From:

Mitchel Cohen <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 26 Dec 2008 10:37:29 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (118 lines)

Printed in the widely read Israeli paper, Haaretz.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1050296.html

A road to revolution?

By Uri Gordon


Three weeks have passed since the unprovoked police murder of 
15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in Athens, and the riots 
engulfing Greece show no sign of abating.

While the student occupations of the capital's three universities 
(Economics, Polytechnic and the law faculty) are expected to end 
soon, a major student demonstration has been called for January 9, 
and the protests, street clashes and seizures of television and radio 
stations are set to continue in full force.

A Greek blogger wrote this week: "We have a duty to move here, there, 
anywhere but back to our couches as mere viewers of history, back 
home to the warmth that freezes our conscience."

The international ripples are also tangible. Solidarity 
demonstrations and attacks on Greek embassies have taken place around 
the globe, from Moscow to New York and Copenhagen to Mexico City. 
Declarations and manifestos issued by student assemblies at Greek 
schools are almost immediately translated and posted online in 
English, French, Italian, Turkish and Serbian.

In the first few days of the revolt, bloggers were trying to put 
together a list of all the solidarity actions taking place, but the 
task proved impossible: There have been literally hundreds of them; 
thousands of people have taken to the streets. Last Saturday, a 
global day of action against police violence saw raucous 
demonstrations in over 30 cities worldwide.

The corporate press has trotted out various theories to explain the 
cause of the unrest - frustration with a corrupt government, the 
global financial crisis, and discontent among Greece's youth, who 
face meager prospects of secure employment or welfare rights - the 
riots being a blind reaction to objective conditions.

But all these explanations are in fact decoys intended to silence and 
ignore the rebels' own declared motivations.

A declaration by the students occupying the Athens School of 
Economics was quite clear about how they see the issue: "The 
democratic regime in its peaceful facade doesn't kill an Alex every 
day, precisely because it kills thousands of Ahmets, Fatimas, Jorjes, 
Jin Tiaos and Benajirs: because it assassinates systematically, 
structurally and without remorse the entirety of the third world ....

"The cardinals of normality weep for the law that was violated from 
the bullet of the pig Korkoneas [the policeman who shot 
Grigoropoulos]. But who doesn't know that the force of the law is 
merely the force of the powerful? That it is law itself that allows 
for the exercise of violence on violence? The law is void from end to 
bitter end; it contains no meaning, no target other than the coded 
power of imposition."

Or, in another declaration, this one anonymous: "What do we seek? 
Equality. Political, economic, social. Between all people. Our 
possibility of convincing the servile consumers to refuse being 
commodities and subjects is rather limited. What can we do? Ravage 
and plunder the market, distribute the goods to everybody, dissolve 
the myths that support inequality."

These are no single-issue protests or vague grievances. This is 
full-blooded revolutionary anarchism.

The mainstream media simply cannot stomach the notion that what is 
happening in Greece is by now a proactive social revolt against the 
capitalist system itself and the state institutions that reinforce 
it. It is time to acknowledge that the Greek anarchist movement has 
successfully seized the initiative after the killing of one of its 
own, framing the issues in a way that appeals to a larger - albeit 
mostly young - public.

Few people realize that the Greek anarchist movement is appreciably 
the largest in the world, in proportion to its country's population. 
It also enjoys wide social support due to its legacy of resistance to 
the military dictatorship from 1967 to 1974. Highly confrontational 
demonstrations are a matter of regularity in Greece. It is 
practically a bimonthly occurrence for anarchists and police to 
engage in fiery street battles in Thessaloniki or Athens. The current 
events are only marked by their breadth and duration, not by their 
level of militancy.

Another rarely appreciated factor is that Greece is a country in 
which the security apparatus is normally kept on a relatively tight 
leash. For example, Privacy International's 2007 assessment of 
leading surveillance societies found Greece to be the only country in 
the world with "adequate safeguards" against the abuse of government 
power to spy on its citizenry. The legacy of the dictatorship has 
created a lasting image of the police as inherently oppressive, even 
among the middle class.

Will the riots in Greece lead to an anti-capitalist revolution? Only 
if the opening they have torn in the social fabric widens and 
deepens, involving ever-growing sections of society and creating new 
grass-roots institutions alongside the destruction of the old. This 
seems unlikely in the short term, as bureaucratic labor unions and 
the Communist Party attempt to domesticate the revolt and cut their 
own political coupon with their demand to disarm the police.

But there is no doubt that a new benchmark has been set for what can 
be expected in Western countries during the coming era of economic 
depression and environmental decay. European governments will no 
doubt ratchet up their policies of surveillance and repression in 
anticipation of growing civil unrest. But that may not be enough to 
keep the population subdued, as crisis after crisis calls the 
existing arrangement of power and privilege into question.

------------------------------
Uri Gordon is the author of "Anarchy Alive!: Anti-Authoritarian 
Politics from Practice to Theory" (Pluto Press); www.anarchyalive.com.

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