Thursday, May 6, 2010

another default is possible

The general strike and demonstrations protesting the misery plan masquerading as “bail-out” yesterday were massive and robust. The several hundred thousand who impressively filled the streets and Syntagma Square are constituting a political force that today is the real locus of democracy in Greece. 

Protests like these helped to bring down the dictators in the early 1970s and more of them now can topple a pseudo-democracy that has failed the country. As PASOK leads the IMF Trojan horse through the gate of Parliament, the unions and groups are gathering for renewed protests this evening.

There are many possible resolutions to this crisis. By no means is the official immiseration plan a “done deal,” as the capitalist media now acknowledges. Even the Wall Street Journal recognizes that default could follow from determined resistance.

Greece faces hard times, but who will have to bear the brunt of the pain? This is a political question that will be decided by the struggle now unfolding.

Who should pay? Whose dignity is to be sacrificed? Why should the banks and creditors, the politicians and major tax-evaders escape the plight they have dumped on the country through corruption, negligence and opportunism?

These are questions of justice and community, and the usual glib mix of lies, platitudes and neoliberal clichés is not going to satisfy a people awakened and stirred.

A real political moment has been opened in Greece.

Default would mean renegotiating everything. But who can be trusted to negotiate for Greece? Certainly not PASOK or New Democracy.

So it’s also time to question the form of democracy, and, if necessary, to change it. Not just the ruling government, then, but government as such is at issue.

Whatever Greece gained under the sign of Europe now comes at the price of immiseration, and there are no guarantees that ostensible benefits will survive the bailout – as any honest analyst admits.

If the Euro founders and the project of “Europe” breaks up, as Merkel in Berlin is whining, then junk this neoliberal, technocratic Europe and let’s see what real democracy can put in its place from below.

These are days for solidarity and focus.

In the fog and tear gas of struggle, we hope comrades will act with all possible care and compassion. We understand the rage and frustration, and the economic terrorism behind it. And we can see the everyday context of state repression and provocation, falling hardest on immigrants and autonomist young people.

The deaths of three employees at Marfin bank is a shock that hits us, too. The loss of three lives is terrible, and a real disaster for their families and loved ones. While we doubt this was intended by any comrade, we’ll also refrain from shifting all blame onto the bank’s chairman, who insisted with threats that his employees stay at their desks on the path of a massive and angry protest. The bank’s negligence was in any case well summarized by an employee, in a letter that has circulated widely.

There is, always, an ethics of struggle, and we hope there will be searching reflections and discussions of appropriate tactics and strategy in this one. We also hope solidarity and realism will keep those debates, when they happen, from becoming divisive.

As far as we can see, this is above all a struggle for dignity and the meaning of democracy. Dignity and real democracy are worthy aims that are not beyond reach in Greece. In the context of Europe, no struggle now is more important, and the hype and spin of mediatized wedges driven from above should not be allowed to distract or divide it.


Letter from a Marfin Bank employee, in Greek original on Indymedia Athens and translated on Occupied London.


  1. Excellent post, fratello. We're keeping track of the Greek situation. Is this Athens the Berlin of 1919?

  2. Let's hope not, since we hope for a different outcome from 1919! In any case, it's a very different conjuncture in so many ways. The most relevant comparison I guess would be Argentina, 2001/2.

  3. Is Scurvy Tunes ever coming back? Love, from Occupied Oakland !!