I have just received this excellent and informative ‘Update on Greece’ from my Greek Ecosocialist comrade Antonis Petropoulos firstname.lastname@example.org (reprinted below). The US and European media ignore or downplay the strikes and demonstrations in Greece — and Spain as well — as if Barcelona weren't three hours by train from Montpellier, France, where I am writing!. Both US and French TV focus relentlessly on sex-scandals (themselves symptoms of the total degeneracy of today's rulers) as a diversion, because they are scared that these revolts will spread via the media – as did the Arab revolts beginning in January. Speaking of which, in Morocco last month I got into the habit of watching the news on Al Jazeera English, which is much more professional, objective and international in coverage than CNN – plus no ads or sports. Click on http://english.aljazeera.net/watch_now/ now and try it.
Recently Moroccan comrades and I have begun working on organizing a pan-Arab Encounter so as to bring together delegates from movements and indy media in all the different countries in struggle — from Syria and Palestine through N. Africa and including Iran, Iraq, Yemen etc. The strength of the Arab Spring has been its international character, but this internationalism has remained on a 'virtual' level, mostly mediated by Al Jazeera, which has done a great job, and of course the social media and blogs. If this Encounter comes off, it could help to make the ‘virtual internationalism’ of the Arab Spring into a more organized and effective network. A heady perspective if it works. I'll keep you posted…
Meanwhile, I wonder why there have been no reported attempts to link up the anti-austerity and ‘indignant’ movements here in Europe. I think one of the main reasons may be the bureaucratic nature of the left parties and unions, so tightly focused on local (national) elections and parochial, sectorial struggles WITHIN the system.
Apparently this is true even of the so-called anti-capitalist parties whose official 'line' sounds very revolutionary — for example the NPA (New Anticapitalist Party) here in France. You’d imagine the various Trotskist internationals would at least try to take advantage of all this spreading spontaneous revolt by creating a multi-national coalition which they could manipulate, but even the vanguards seem too mired in inter-group infighting and local issues to rise to the occasion.
Small wonder. Remember last year when there were huge general strikes in both France and Spain but ZERO coordination of international solidarity? Nor did any international (or even national) network come out of the great victory of the 2005 NO vote against the neo-liberal European constitution (supported by both the Right and the (officially Socialist) Left. Yet instead of uniting the NOs, the French far-Left fielded seven (count ‘em 7) competing candidates during the following election, all of whom studiously turned there back on the Dutch, who had also rejected the neo-liberal Constitution.
All these vanguard parties seem to take Trotsky's 1930 analysis of Stalinism ("the crisis of revolutionary leadership" ) as the major problem of revolution in the 20th (now 21st) century. They believe that once the workers have 'correct' leadership (incarnated by their own splinter group) the revolution is around the corner. (The Maoists think the same). However, in my experience going back the 50's and 60's, these self-appointed vanguard parties do more harm than good. Their attempts to dominate self-developing mass movements like anti-Vietnam coalitions and SDS always lead to splits and demoralization.
So maybe we should be grateful that they're too busy squabbling to jump on this new revolutionary bandwagon in order to take it over. And maybe the self-organized movements of the Arab world (where opposition parties were largely inexistent) will continue to show Europeans the way toward international solidarity and mass revolt based on general assemblies, networks and horizontal structures. Inch Allah.
Best Wishes to All, Richard
Here’s Antonis’ Update on Greece:
“Yesterday 15 June there was a general strike with some 30,000 ?demonstrators marching in down town Athens, where the 'Indignados' ?("Aganaktismenoi" in Greek) have been camping in the parliament square ?(Syntagma sq. meaning 'Constitution' sq.) for the past 3 weeks. The ?Aganaktismenoi are a mixed bunch from all age groups and social strata ?ranging from far left to far right, although the majority are ?center-left. They have no clear demands other than a change of economic ?policies although they may become more radicalized in the future.??Yesterday once the main demonstration blocks had passed Syntagma square ?there were clashes between self-styled "anarcho-autonomous" and riot ?police and some between extreme-rightists and other demonstrators.?The police used as always battons and tear gas also against the ?Aganaktismenoi who had to temporarily evacuate the square, however a ?couple of hours later all was quiet and the crowds were back in the square.??
The 'socialist' prime-minister almost resigned yesterday, for some other ?reason known to him not because of the clashes, he spoke on the phone ?with all the main party leaders nearly and nearly agreed with the ?center-right leader of the opposition to form an emergency unity ?government, however apparently they disagreed on the exact terms and ?length of the arrangement, as became evident late last night, each side ?blaming the other.??Today a government reshuffle is expected to take place, and on Tuesday ?the new govt will ask for a vote of confidence in the parliament. It ?will probably get it, although there have been resignations of ?'socialist' MPs, the last one an hour ago.??Under pressure from IMF and EU, the government has imposed an austerity ?and heavy taxation program, which is hurting the society and economy. ?Official unemployment was already 16% in April, and rising about 0.5% ?per month. It is 40%+ among youth, the more educated and ambitious of ?whom are migrating to other EU countries.
At the same time immigration & ?refugee flows (mainly from Afghanistan, Africa, Kurdistan/Turkey/Iraq, ?Pakistan) are continuing, with Greece being a major EU entry point for ?immigrants without papers. Racist attacks (mostly beatings and a few ?stabbings) are becoming more frequent in down town Athens, about one ?incident every 2 days.??Forecast: Early Elections by September at the latest, that will probably ?be won by the center-right with a slim majority. The 'socialist' ?privatisation program will continue, although taxation may be decreased.
??The parties from Left to Right: the 'Marxist-Leninist' KKE (Communist ?Party of Greece) is solidifying its support at 9%, the anticapitalist ?leftist coalition ANTARSYA gets around 1.5% (below the 3% threshold ?needed to enter parliament), the Coalition of the Radical Left 'Syriza' ?is more or less steady at 4-5%, the Greens will probably enter ?parliament after 20 years, with around 3.5%, the 'Democratic Left' may ?manage to pass the 3% threshold, although it is doubtful, PASOK (the ?governing socialists) are currently at around 25%, Democratic Alliance ?(atlanticist neoliberal center-right party led by former ?foreign-minister) at around 2.5%, the opposition New Decmocracy at ?around 27% (will probably form next government), the nationalist LAOS at ?around 7%. and the officially neonazi Chrysi Avgi at around 1%. 10% ?undecided – swing voters.”