Some are working very hard to broaden and deepen the movement in the
U.S. For example, persons who were moved to work for Obama's election,
have continued to meet with their new-found political allies in
post-election groups that have taken up local political activity.
Meanwhile, many Marxists and other anti-capitalists who participate in
these presently localized formations have been meeting in discussion
groups to deepen their understanding in order to better inform their
broad work. As Marxists have always done they combine support of the
immediate struggle with drawing out awareness of the systemic source of
the problems confronted. These are the kinds of activities that were
going on at a small scale before the rise of the student movement in the
late sixties. In order to be aware at this time of these activities
that may flower into substantial voices from the street that, at
minimum, will influence the Obama agenda, and hopefully, at maximum,
mature into a consciously anti-capitalist movement, one has to be part
of them or in the communities where they operate., as, i believe many on
this list are.
I do not yet see much movement among young technical professionals; but
i do see a lot in the arts. Agitarte is an organization here in Lynn
and in San Juan that uses the expressive art forms of the
street--graffiti, street theater, spoken word, hip-hop, break dancing,
puppets--to bring forward local issues and often explicitly
anti-capitalist motives in the streets and cafes. There are many
similar orgs throughout the country and in Latin America; and many are
in touch with one another.
I'm sure there are persons who fit Michael's description of a "Marxist
left [that] has actually abdicated the struggle and is content to snipe
from the sidelines," but these are not the ones who count. Neither is
there any relevance to the emerging movement of those, who,
disillusioned from their past associations on the left, feel their
primary mission is to expose the failures or weaknesses of the twentieth
century's authoritarian Communism (or arduous socialism). Pessimism
comes from a dark place. Most of us prefer to stand in the Sun.
Think back sisters and brothers to the real origins of the anti-war
movement-- a very few persons in small demonstrations. Ask Howard Zinn;
he'll tell you about it. Our own Science for the People owes its
origins to Charlie Schwartz, who with little support tried to get the
APS to take a stand against the war. Students in China's ill fated
Cultural Revolution provided a significant stimulus to Students and
Workers in France in 1968 who in turn influenced students in the US and
elsewhere in Europe. Something similar may come from the Greek students
uprising. It may not. Who knows. But one thing is absolutely clear.
A movement, when it does arise, will result from what are initially bold
actions by a few with courage, optimism and a belief in their fellow
humans; and not from back-biting divisiveness from the sidelines by
Michael Balter wrote:
> Very interesting, but here is the key paragraph to me:
> "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."
> I would be more optimistic if this writer provided some examples of
> how anarchists and other anti-capitalists in Greece are actively
> working to broaden out the recent militant actions, and what they are
> doing to create the new grass-roots institutions mentioned here.
> Episodes like this, exciting as they may be as barometers of social
> and political discontent, do not automatically lead to broader social
> movements, as everyone here knows very well. That's where the hard
> work of organizing comes in. Bringing it back to the good ol' USA:
> What are those leftists who are most anti-capitalist doing to take
> advantage of Obama's election and the modest but important shift in
> consciousness it represents? Eg, where is the antiwar movement? The
> Marxist left has actually abdicated the struggle and is content to
> snipe from the sidelines, and the more moderate left is crossing its
> fingers and hoping Obama will throw a few bones to progressives. We
> need to bridge that gap somehow.
> On Fri, Dec 26, 2008 at 4:37 PM, Mitchel Cohen
> <[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
> Printed in the widely read Israeli paper, Haaretz.
> 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
> 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
> Uri Gordon is the author of "Anarchy Alive!: Anti-Authoritarian
> Politics from Practice to Theory" (Pluto Press);
> www.anarchyalive.com <http://www.anarchyalive.com>.
> Michael Balter
> Contributing Correspondent, Science
> Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
> Boston University
> Email: [log in to unmask]
> <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> Website: michaelbalter.com <http://michaelbalter.com>
> Balter's Blog: michael-balter.blogspot.com