Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Saker interviews 'anticapitalista' in Greece about the demonstrations this week

Dear friends,

Here is the transcript of an interview via IRC which I made this morning with 'anticapitalista', the author of the article "Days of Rage" which I posted yesterday:

The Saker: Hi again Anticapitalista: - can you update us on what happened this week?
Anticapitalista: Yes. On Monday school students started to occupy their schools and university students had mass meetings to do the same
The Saker: what was the reaction from the state?
Anticapitalista: Not a lot really. The government is hoping the anger will subside
The Saker: so the police is not evicting the students or teargassing the demonstrators? is that not interpreted as a sign of weakness in the press?
Anticapitalista: The police are not allowed to enter the University so they cannot evict the students. The police have been teargassing the demonstrations (they actually ran out of tear gas last week and announced they were waiting for more from Germany and Israel)
The Saker: can the cops enter the schools (non-universites)? I understand middle-schools are also involved...
Anticapitalista: The hard-right and the police want the state to be used more, but the government seems to want to 'weather the storm'
Anticapitalista: The cops can enter high schools, but they tend not to. Instead the authoritees encourage 'concerned citizens' to smash up the sit-ins
The Saker: how is the media and, in particular, the TV covering all this and has the "official" (State) Church in Greece reacted to the events?
Anticapitalista: The media is united in condemning the 'riots', but at the same time has talked about the social problems that led to the riots in the first place. The 'society in crisis' type response.
Anticapitalista: The Church is using the same argument. Morals have declined, family values have broken and there is no respect. Typical right-wing stuff really
Anticapitalista: The media only really shows the trouble. It very rarely shows the demonstrations
The Saker: what about the unions? are there still powerful unions in Greece or have they been crushed by the right-wing "consensus" of the Bush era?
Anticapitalista: The unions are still powerful. Last Thursday saw a General Strike against the budget proposals, but it also linked the issue of the police murder. There is a strike tomorrow by teachers (over the murder) and hospital workers (against privatisation).
Anticapitalista: Public sector workers, port workers have also been on strike recently
The Saker: is there a central union (coordinating) committee which can decree a national strike like the "paro national" in Argentina or a "greve generale" in France which really paralyzes the entire nation. Can the unions bring down the government?
Anticapitalista: There are 2 union federations. GSEE which organises the private sector and ADEDY which organises public sector workers. Last week's strike was a joint one. In theory the unions are powerful enough to paralyse the country and bring down the government, but the leadership of the federations are unwilling to do so for political reasons.
The Saker: What kind of reasons?
Anticapitalista: Many of the leaders support the socialist party PASOK and the PASOK 'line' is that the government will fall by its own accord.
Anticapitalista: Those union leaders influenced by the KKE are 'worried' that PASOK will win the election and so there won't be any difference.
The Saker: KKE?
Anticapitalista: The Greek Communist Party.
The Saker: Have there been any demonstrations of support in the rest of Europe this week (as had been the case last week)?
Anticapitalista: I haven't heard of any demonstrations yet, but tomorrow is a day of action against the murder and some groups have called for international solidarity also for Saturday. Many messages of support have come to the Law School in Athens (where the main co-ordination takes place)from all over the world.
The Saker: What is your sense of the potential of these demonstrations? How firm is the resolve of the protesters? Is there any chance at all that these demonstrations might be a spark which could spread to the rest of NATO-occupied Europe?
Anticapitalista: The potential to bring down the government is huge. The protesters, especially students, are determined to make the government pay. The slogans are not just against the police and police violence, but against the government itself, with many demanding the resignation of Karamanlis the Prime Minister and /or calling on the government to resign.
Anticapitalista: We know that events in Greece are being watched carefully all over the world, but especially in Europe, not just from those at the bottom of society, but also from those in power. They are scared that the same may happen in their own countries. The economic crisis and social discontent can easily spill into open defiance. If we win here, it will give a message to others that they can do the same.
The Saker: Last question: Hezbollah is planning a mass demonstration against the Israeli crimes in Gaza. Are the European leftists and students going to support this or are they only busy with their own, comparatively smaller, issues? Is there a sense among students that they are fighting the same USraelien empire as the Resistance is Lebanon, or is the traditional anti-religious bigotry of the left still an obstacle to the understanding of Hezbollah's importance in the world-wide resistance to the Empire?
The Saker: note: Hezbollah is planning the demonstration for this Friday.
Anticapitalista: A week before the 'riots' broke out, there was an All Balkans Peace Conference held in Athens with participants from Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and from Hezbollah! This conference was an initiative set up by the Stop the War Coalition in Greece to build for the anti-NATO demonstrations to take place next April in Strasburg. '60 years of NATO...
Anticapitalista: enough" being the main slogan.
Anticapitalista: The anti-war movement is strong here and there were large demonstrations in support of Hezbollah 2 years ago during the war with Israel. Many young people participated. The issue of Palestine is known too and workers and students regularly demonstrate in solidarity. Anti-imperialism is very powerful here and so is solidarity with those oppressed whether they be Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans,...
Anticapitalista: ...Kurds in Turkey etc etc
The Saker: Hopefully this Friday will be a day of solidarity and resistance in Europe and in the Middle-East!