SYRIZA leader ALEXIS TSIPRAS meets solidarity delegation

The Greece Solidarity Campaign’s recent delegation to Athens met with ALEXIS TSIPRAS MP, Leader of SYRIZA and President of Synaspismos. The delegation meeting him included national representatives from UNITE, CWU, FBU and TSSA, together with Romayne Phoenix, Chair of the Coalition of Resistance, Rachel Newton, National Coordinator of the People’s Charter and Paul Mackney, Chair of the Greece Solidarity Campaign, pictured here with Alexis Tsipras and other comrades from SYRIZA.

The impact of austerity

Alexis Tsipras described as ‘catastrophic’ the impact of austerity on Greek society, describing public hospitals on the brink of collapse with a shortage of medical supplies, and there were no new books at the start of the school year, so parents were forced to photocopy old ones. He said ‘it’s only a matter of time before the next social explosion’.

Mr Tsipras told the delegation that if austerity is the prescription’ to cure the economic crisis, it is ‘the medicine of disaster’ and that the policies being imposed by the IMF/EU and World Bank are destroying social cohesion, destroying the political system and destroying the economy.

He described how the imposition of these policies, being implemented by a Government with no electoral mandate was a ‘violation of the democratic establishment’ and a ‘loss of national sovereignty’.

Background to austerity in Greece

The representatives from Synaspismos described some of the build up to the crisis. They outlined how national income through tax had diminished year on year, even in the ‘development years’ when there was economic growth.

They told the delegation that 110 billion euros were lost through avoidance and evasion of tax on profits by richest in Greece, with tax evasion by the rich on a grand scale in the last 10 years. Instead of collecting money owned by the wealthy a direct tax (VAT) of 23% has been levied, affecting the poorest most. An example of this was given: Greece has the biggest merchant fleet in the world, but the fleet owners pay less in tax that the entire immigrant population in Greece.

They described how for two and a half years the banks, bailed out in 2008, have not paid back the money that they owe the Greek people. Tsipras described the ESKRO off-shore account created outside of Greece by the Greek government, which will pay banks and other international creditors first, and whatever is left will go to meet the social needs of Greece. 40 billion Euros of capital has left Greece in the last year.

Not a Greek crisis

Representatives talked about their efforts to counter the incorrect arguments that single out Greece as the cause of the crisis – the ‘black sheep.’ They described their view of the causes of the crisis are because of the neo-liberal economic policies followed across Europe and beyond, making it a ‘European crisis, a capitalist crisis, not a Greek crisis….not a war between people and nations but between classes.

The problem is ‘not the cook making a bad meal but the recipe’. (Alexis Tsipras)

They described the austerity policies as ‘shock neo-liberal measures’ that were a socio-political experiment – using Greece to see how much a society can take, how far resources can be privatised and a new  supply of cheap labour be created, to export to neighbouring countries.

What needs to happen?

Alexis Tsipras talked about the need for the left to create a climate of social justice and campaign for alternative policies

He said that the Government had no mandate to sign the two memoranda, and questioned their legality. He said the first job of a new Government with a popular mandate should be to renegotiate the memos, on the agreed principal that Greek society cannot take the policies of the two memos. Furthermore they felt that the key question was not in or out of the eurozone, but rather exploiting being in it to support renegotiation.

They outlined how regardless of any renegotiations their view is that there needs to be a reorganisation of social and economic structures. Key features of this include socialisation (nationalisation) of the banking system and redistribution of wealth through a radical change in the taxation system – taxing big capital not poverty.

Mr Tsipras told the delegation that political figures on the left and ex-PASOK needed to create an electoral alliance. He said that this hasn’t been possible so far, because of different traditions and party interests. However he said that SYRIZA was an initiative trying to create this alliance, to include ex-PASOK members. He said that such an alliance could allow the left to come second in the forthcoming elections.

What can a solidarity movement in the UK do?

The delegation was told how important the initiative of setting up a solidarity campaign in the UK is in supporting those opposing austerity in Greece.

The Synaspismos representatives stressed the need for solidarity action that challenges the notion that this is a problem with Greece and the slurs about Greek people. They described how the situation was impacting on Greek people in two ways – making them feel isolated and under attack, but at the same time, some believing the politicians and the media that say the Greek people are to blame. The delegation was told how important solidarity support from the UK could be in overcoming both of these things.

‘It is very important to the Greek people that there is such an initiative as this in Britain. It is important to the Greek people to understand that they are not alone and there other people with them against the attack taking place’. (Alexis Tsipras)

The delegation was told about the importance of the international links made in the squares movement – with Occupy Wall St and the Arab social occupation movements – and the need to link up with movements such as these, and build on the connections already made.

Representatives stressed the importance in Greece of the trade unions being in the forefront of opposition to austerity, and that this meant it was vital for international solidarity to include union to union links and – ultimately – coordinated international action. An example of such action had recently taking place, with a day of action in Greece on 29th February supported by solidarity action organised by the trade unions in Portugal and Spain.

‘This is a European crisis and we must respond on a European basis. This needs to include Europe outside of the EU, a new internationalism.’  (Alexis Tsipras)

Greece: My No in Parliament is a Yes for resistance

This week the German federal government asked parliament to endorse a further Greek bailout package. German MP Christine Buchholz explains why she will vote No – together with all other members of Die Linke – the German Left Party.

I will vote against the federal government’s proposal which, according to them, is “financial assistance for the benefit of the Hellenic Republic”. They want to make us believe that their intention is to help the Greek people. But this is a lie. Not a single cent of the 130 billion euros is earmarked for the Greek people. The Greek state will be the beneficiary of the money in order to pay off debts to German, French, and Greek banks. The rescue package is not intended for the Greek people but for the European banks.

I will vote No today because those that are part of the cause of the crisis do not deserve this reward. I will vote No today because it is Greek wage earners and the poor who are paying for this when all is said and done, and every single euro has to be paid back at excessive interest rates. Greek wage earners, their wages cut to starvation levels, their jobs and livelihoods gone, their pension contributions pilfered, they are the ones to pay.

I will vote No because these measures can only be forced upon the Greek people by external pressure. In reality, this bailout package is a weapon against Greek sovereignty over its own budget. The Troika consisting of the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund undermine democracy in order to wage war against the Greek working class.

But German wage earners also pay for these policies. It is their taxes which make up the bailout package to rescue the banks. Falsely, Greek workers are presented as the guilty party. No, Greek workers are not lazy, neither have they lived beyond their means. I will vote No because I am opposed to wage earners being played off against one another by the European ruling class. What we need instead is a European minimum wage. What we need instead is for the banks to be nationalised. The financial markets must be muzzled. This is the only way to stop speculators driving whole countries into bankruptcy.

My No in parliament is a Yes to resistance. I support the strikes by Greek trade unions against the Troika’s austerity measures. I also support the protests against the powerful financial markets planned for May. Only solidarity in resistance can break the ruling class austerity diktat.

Berlin, 27th February 2012

Spain 1936 – Greece 2012: Peoples of Europe Unite!

Sonia Mitralia, Member of the Greek Committee Against the Debt and the Women’s Initiative Against the Debt and Austerity, speaks at a meeting organised in Marseilles on 17 February 2012 by the French campaign “for a citizens’ audit of the public debt”.

The pace of history is picking up and the cataclysmic events of recent days in Greeceshould now eliminate any lingering doubts that Greece today is tending to become for Europe what Spain was in 1936. This apparently rather daring insight is not the work of a few romantics. No, it is those who rule us, for those who have beat it into us all day long for almost two years are those at the top, the Merkels and Sarkozys, the IMF and the bankers, neo-liberal reactionaries above and beyond national frontiers, those who have chosen to turn Greece into a laboratory for their inhuman policies and the Greeks into guinea pigs for their shock therapy.

It is high time for all of us at the bottom in Europeto take seriously what Merkozy and the Troika are telling us and act accordingly.  Let us accept the challenge and tell them that starting now Greece will become a test case for the workers’ movement too, for the social and women’s movements, for the peoples and the exploited all over Europe. Yes, let’s make it very clear to them that we are all Greeks because we totally understand that the the struggle of the Greek people is more than ever our struggle. That if they come and try to smash and defeat the Greek people, we and all the other peoples ofEurope will for it next, one by one …

You may remember the nonsense they told us in the very beginning, that “this is a unique and specifically Greek case due to the fact that these Greeks are lazy good-for-nothings inured to lying and corruption”, But since then , we have learned that the debt black hole isn’t confined to Greece, that it is not due to the alleged excesses of the Greek state, because it’s the same in America, France, Italy and Japan. In fact, it’s typical of capitalism and of a crisis which is quite simply systemic.

But be on your guard against cliches and ready-made phrases which simply do not capture the reality of what is happening inGreecetoday. Can you really still talk about – even draconian – austerity when wages and pensions in Greece are falling by 40%, 50% or even 60%? When purchasing power for the overwhelming majority of the population has already been slashed by 50%, 60% or even 70%? When the country’s middle class is ruined and on the way to pauperisation? When newly-employed people only get 417 euros and new pensioners only get 320 euros? Is it still only “fiscal prudence” when every other young Greek is unemployed and unemployment levels have now reached 25%? How can you talk of mere “temporary sacrifices” when malnutrition is ravaging little primary school-children and hunger stalks even the middle-class districts of Greek towns? How can you pretend that all this is “necessary to get the finances into order” in Greece when our executions themselves cynically admit that the policies they have forcibly imposed on Greece have failed and are only pushing the country deeper into a monstrous recession and that the Greek debt can never be repaid? So is this just sadism on the part of the infamous Troika or is it rather an open declaration of war by capital on the world of work? Daily reality forces us to admit: Yes, what we are seeing inGreeceis a veritable war by those on top against those at the bottom, the rich against all the others. At the same time, let us not forget, for it is important, that what we are seeing is the rebirth of the worst colonialism, when we see Greece humiliated and stripped of almost all her national sovereignty, treated by her supposed European partners as an actual colony, a protectorate in leading-strings, run on the spot by some Gauleiter sent by Mrs Merkel and Mr Schaueble …

And what are Greek people themselves doing? Be careful, don’t believe what they tell you about the Greeks. Your media are like ours: the reality they describe to us is completely unreal. Talking abour present-dayGreece, they insist that there is inAthensa government of National Union supported by four fifths of the representatives of the Greek people. So, to believe them, you would end up thinking the Greeks are a bit S/M and enjoy being knocked about …

Obviously the reality is very different. A dozen general strikes in less than two years, countless hard-fought struggles and strikes all over the country, a semi-insurrectionary climate over recent months, a movement of “Indignés” – the Aganaktismeni – which swept through Greece for three months, very violent confrontations with the unbridled forces of repression, ministers and MPs who have been too scared to go out for the last ten months because they are booed or even beaten by passers-by, a parliament beseiged more and more frequently by hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who sooner or later will take it by storm … this is a brief glance at the almost daily routine in Greece long months since.

But these are only the warning tremors of a great social earthquake which is under preparation. In fact you only need to look a little more closely to see that people’s anger is even now breaking all historical records, that the country is like a volcano ready to explode. Also the very many opinion polls tell a story. Popular support for the government of so-called National Unity is no more than 8%, while taken together the parties to the left of social-democratic PASOK now score over 50%! Everything is changing at breakneck speed and the political landscape inGreecein undergoing a truly unprecedented upheaval  because entire sections of Greek society are looking for radical solutions for the crisis and for their galloping impoverishment. Would you like an example which perfectly illustrates this quite exceptional situation, which more and more resembles what happened in a certain inter-war period on our continent? PASOK, which two years ago gained a triumphant and record-breaking victory with 45% ov the vote, only scores less than 10% in the opinion polls, while recently a tiny group of neo-nazi murderers has scored 3%! Yes, Greek society is experiencing its ownWeimarRepublic…

So, what is to be done? The first thing is to say loud and clear that Greeks should not pay this debt which is strangling them and which is not their responsibility, that payment should be suspended immediately. To do what? To do what we are obliged to do by international law, the UN, and a number of international conventions, signed by our governments, incidentally: to invest the astronomic sums currently devoted to servicing this debt to satisfying the basic needs of Greek society, infrastructure, public services, the unemployed, starving kids, single-parent families, the sick and the disabled, and women who are currently forced to take on for free within the family all the tasks which used to be performed by public services before they were dismantled and privatised.

For how long? For as long as it takes to carry out a citizens’ audit to identify which bits of it are invalid and which should be annulled and not paid, all the while obstinately refusing to fall into the trap of our executioners’ blackmail when they keep repeating all day long that any such radical policy automatically leads to leaving the euro and the European Union and a forced national withdrawal into ourselves…

No! No! No! We refuse to pay this debt and at the same time we will stay in the euro zone. And the main reason for this is very simple: because we want to fight side by side with you, all together, hand in hand with all the peoples and all the workers of this continent, to blow up this Europe of capital, of the Merkels and the Sarkozys. Because we want to create and build up what they call the “systemic crisis” of this anti-democratic and anti-social European Union of the rich. Yes, from now on there is only one realistic and feasible course, that of a joint struggle of all those at the bottom everywhere inEurope. Comrades, now more than every, unity makes us strong. Let us unite, because together we can still change this world which is in the process of rotting away. Before it is too late  … and remember: If not us, who? If not now, when?

Save the Greeks from their Saviours! says Alain Badiou

French intellectuals have launched a new statement today in support of the Greek people: Alain Badiou, Jean-Christophe Bailly, Étienne Balibar, Claire Denis, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Ranciere, Avital Ronell. Save the Greeks from their Saviors! February 22, 2012. Translation into English by Anastazia Golemi.

At this moment, that one out of two Greeks is unemployed, 25.000 homeless wander in the streets of Athens, 30% of the population is living below the poverty line, thousands of families have to put their children in institutions so they won’t die of hunger and cold, and refugees and newly poor citizens struggle for garbage bins in public places, the “saviors” of Greece, under the pretext of the Greeks “not putting lots of effort” impose a new plan of help that doubles the given lethal dose. A plan that eliminates the labor law, and condemns the already poor people to extreme poverty, while vanishing the middle classes.

There is no chance this idea is the “salvation” of Greece: all the -worthy of the name- economists agree on that. The goal is to win time in order to save the creditors while the country is driven to a prescribed bankruptcy. Primarily, the aim is to transform Greece into a laboratory of social transformation that will be generalized later across Europe. The model tested over the Greeks is a model of a society without public services, in which schools, hospitals and medical centers are demolished, health becomes a privilege of the rich, vulnerable populations are destined for a planned extermination, while those who still have a job will be working under extreme insecurity and economic misery.

But in order that the counterattack of neoliberalism to achieve its goal, needs a system to established, that abolishes the most basic democratic rights. Under orders of the rescuers, we see that in Europe are installed governments of technocrats who despise popular sovereignty. This is a turning point concerning the parliamentary systems in which we see the “representatives” of the people to empower professionals and bankers, “carte blanche”, denying the alleged authority to make decisions. A type of parliamentary coup, which refer, inter alia, in an expanded repressive arsenal against the protests of the people. Therefore, once the Members ratified the diametrically opposed to the mandate dictated by the Troika agreement (European Union, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund), a power lacking democratic legitimacy mortgaging the future of the country for the next thirty or forty years.

Furthermore, the European Union is ready to create a blocked bank account in which the aid to Greece will be deposited directly in order to be used exclusively for the benefit of the debt. The revenues of the country must be the “absolute priority” to repay creditors and, if need comes up should be directly deposited into this account that is managed by the European Union. The Convention explicitly requires that any new obligations that may arise will be governed by the English law, which requires material guarantees, and the disputes will be decided by the courts of Luxembourg and Greece will have been a priori lost every right of appeal against any seizure the creditors may decide. To complete the picture, privatization assigned to a fund managed by Troika which will hold the ownership titles of public goods. To complete the picture, privatization assigned to a fund managed by Troika which will hold the titles of ownership of public goods. In short, we are dealing with a generalized looting, a characteristic of the financial capitalism that in this case offers himself an institutional betrayal. To the extent that sellers and buyers will sit on the same side of the table, we have not the slightest doubt that the privatization project is a real symposium for the buyers.

All the measures taken so far had only result in deepening the Greek national debt which, with the help of the rescuers who lend to usurious interest rates, has literally skyrocketing approaching 170% of a gross national product in free fall, while in 2009 represented only 120%.

Everyone can bet that those many rescue plans that are presented each time as “final” – were intended to weaken more and more Greece’s position so that, lacking any opportunity to propose its own terms of a reconstruction, to be forced to sell everything to the creditors under the blackmail of “destruction or austerity.” The artificial and forced deterioration of the debt issue was used as a weapon of assault for the fall of a society as a whole.We are deliberately using here terms that belong to the military terminology: this is clearly a war conducted by the means of economy, politics and law, a class war against the entire society. And the spoils that the financial system expects to distract from “the enemy” are the social gains and democratic rights, but what is ultimately at stake is the ability for a human life. And the life of those who do not produce or consume enough compared with the profit-maximizing strategies should not be maintained.

So, the inability of a country caught in the vise of unlimited speculation and destructive plans of salvation, is the secret door from where a model -society violently invades in accordance with the requirements of the neo-liberal fundamentalism. A model for whole Europe and beyond. This is the real challenge, and therefore the defense of the Greek people is not limited to a gesture of solidarity or abstract humanity: the future of democracy and the fate of European nations are at stake. Everywhere the “urgent necessity” of a “painful but life-saving” austerity is presented as the means to avoid the fate of Greece, but this leads directly to it.

Against this organized attack against society, in front of the disaster of the last islands of democracy, we call our fellow citizens, the French and European friends to express themselves strongly. We must not allow the monopoly of speech to the “experts” and politicians. The fact that the request of mainly German and French leaders now is to ban elections in Greece can really leave us indifferent? The stigmatization and the systematic denigration of the people does not really deserve an answer? Is it possible for us not to raise our voice against this institutional murder of the Greek people? And can we stay silent in front of the forced establishment of a system that outlaws even the very idea of social solidarity?

We are at a no turning back point. It is urgent to fight the battle of numbers and the war of words to stop the extreme-liberal rhetoric of fear and misinformation. It is urgent to deconstruct the moral lessons that obscure the real process that takes place in society. It is more than urgent to demystify the racist Greek insistence on a “characteristic” that aims to elevate the supposed national character of a nation (laziness or intended guile) to the root cause of a crisis that is actually global. What counts today is not the differences, real or imaginary, but the commons: the fate of a nation who will influence others.

Many technical solutions have been proposed in order to get out of the dilemma “either destruction of society or bankruptcy” (meaning, as we see it today: “and destruction and bankruptcy”). All solutions should be examined as elements of thought in order to build an other Europe.But first we must denounce the crime, bring out the situation of the Greek people, because of “aid projects” which were conceived by and for the speculators and creditors. Once a support movement is woven around the world, where networks of the Internet are buzzing initiatives of solidarity, the French intellectuals would it be the last to speak up in support of Greece? Without waiting any longer, let’s multiply the articles, the media interventions, the conversations, the calls, the demonstrations. Because any initiative is welcome , any initiative is urgent. In what concerns us, here’s what we suggest: to move quickly to the creation of a European intellectuals and artists comittee in solidarity with the Greek people to resist.

If not us, who will?

If not now, when will it be?

Daniel ALVARO, Alain BADIOU, Jean-Christophe BAILLY, Étienne BALIBAR, Fernanda BERNARDO, Barbara CASSIN, Bruno CLÉMENT, Danièle COHEN-LEVINAS, Yannick COURTEL, Claire DENIS, Georges DIDI-HUBERMANN, Roberto ESPOSITO, Francesca ISIDORI, Pierre-Philippe JANDIN, Jérôme LÈBRE, Jean-Clet MARTIN, Jean-Luc NANCY, Jacques RANCIÈRE, Judith REVEL, Elisabeth RIGAL; Jacob ROGOZINSKI, Avital RONELLI, Ugo SANTIAGO, Beppe SEBASTE, Michèle SINAPI, Enzo TRAVERSO, Frieder Otto WOLF.

Translations:

Alain Badiou, Jean-Christophe Bailly, Étienne Balibar, Claire Denis, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Ranciere, Avital Ronell. Save the Greeks from their Saviors! February 22, 2012. Translation into English by Anastazia Golemi.
Alain Badiou, Jean-Christophe Bailly, Étienne Balibar, Claire Denis, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Ranciere, Avital Ronell. Salvemos el pueblo griego de sus salvadores! February 22, 2012. Translation into Spanish by Mauricio Rugeles Schoonewolff.
Alain Badiou, Jean-Christophe Bailly, Étienne Balibar, Claire Denis, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Ranciere, Avital Ronell. Sauvons le peuple grec de ses sauveurs! in: Liberation. February 22, 2012. (French).
Alain Badiou, Jean-Christophe Bailly, Étienne Balibar, Claire Denis, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Ranciere, Avital Ronell. Retten wir das griechische Volk vor seinen Rettern! February 21, 2012. Translation into German by Judith Dellheim.
Alain Badiou, Jean-Christophe Bailly, Étienne Balibar, Claire Denis, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Ranciere, Avital Ronell. Salviamo la Grecia dai suoi salvatori: Un appello agli intellettuali europe. laRepubblica.it. February 22, 2012. Translation into Italian by Vicky Skoumbi, Dimitris Vergetis, Michel Surya.
Alain Badiou, Jean-Christophe Bailly, Étienne Balibar, Claire Denis, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Ranciere, Avital Ronell. ΝΑ ΣΩΣΟΥΜΕ ΤΟΝ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΟ ΛΑΟ ΑΠΟ ΤΟΥΣ ΣΩΤΗΡΕΣ ΤΟΥ. in: tometopo. February 21, 2012. (Greek).
Alain Badiou, Jean-Christophe Bailly, Étienne Balibar, Claire Denis, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Ranciere, Avital Ronell. Spasimo Grcki Narod Od Njegovih Spasitelja! February 21, 2012. Translation into Serbian by Vesna Madzoski.

Greek Solidarity Appeal – now in German!

As thousands now sign up to the Appeal – including leading cultural figures Ken Loach, John Pilger, Iain Banks and A.L.Kennedy – please add your name and circulate the call widely across Europe.

Solidarität mit Griechenland

Bitte unterschreibt den Aufruf zur Solidarität mit Griechenland. Die Unterschriftenaktion wird von Gewerkschaftern, Abgeordneten und Aktivisten unterstützt.

Griechenland ist von einer beispiellosen wirtschaftlichen und politischen Krise betroffen. Die Menschen sind durch die Forderungen der sogenannten Troika, bestehend aus der Europäischen Union, der Europäischen Zentralbank und dem Internationalen Währungsfonds, zu Armut und Massenarbeitslosigkeit verdammt. Die Troika hat Griechenland auch Lucas Papadermos, ehemals Vize-Präsident der Europäischen Zentralbank, als Premierminister aufgezwängt.

Krankhäusern in Griechenland mangelt es an gewöhnlichen Medikamenten, fast die Hälfte aller jungen Menschen sind arbeitslos, in einigen Industrie- und Dienstleistungszweigen werden schon seit Monaten keine Gehälter bezahlt; viele sind gezwungen, Suppenküchen in Anspruch zu nehmen oder im Müll nach Essbarem zu suchen.

Jetzt fordert die Troika zusätzlich eine Mindestlohnkürzung von 23%, Zehntausende Stellen im öffentlichen Dienst sollen gekürzt werden und die Renten, die schon um fast 50% gekürzt wurden, sollen noch mehr sinken. Das internationale Kapital zerstört im ganzen Land Vermögenswerte und demoliert das Sozialgefüge.

Griechenland befindet sich an der Schnittkante der Sparpolitik, die allerdings auch in anderen Ländern Europas eingeführt wird. Und während alles Beweismaterial darauf hindeutet, dass diese Maßnahmen im Interesse der besitzenden Klasse sind, ist auch klar, dass die Mehrheit der Menschen leidet. Und was heute Griechenland, ist morgen Portugal und übermorgen Irland. Auch die britische Koalitionsregierung verfolgt ähnliche Maßnahmen einschließlich Lohnkürzungen, längeres Arbeiten für niedrigere Renten sowie Abbau des nationalen Gesundheitswesens und anderen öffentlichen Leistungen.

Mikis Theodorakis, der berühmte griechische Komponist, der auch die Musik zu den Filmen „Alexis Sorbas“ und „Z“ schrieb, und Manolis Glezos, antifaschistischer Widerstandskämpfer, Politiker und Autor, veröffentlichten einen Aufruf, einen gemeinsamen Appell für die Rettung der Menschen Europas.

Die britische Coalition of Resistance und die, ebenfalls britische, People’s Charter unterstützen diesen Aufruf und arbeiten zusammen mit Gewerkschaften, Bürgerinitiativen und Parteien in ganz Europa, um eine Solidaritätsbewegung mit Griechenland aufzubauen. Wir organisieren Solidaritätsveranstaltungen und leisten den Menschen in Griechenland praktischen Beistand. Wir dürfen es nicht zulassen, dass Millionen Menschen für die Krise bezahlen, die sie nicht verursacht haben.

Bitte unterschreibt und sammelt Unterschriften.

Weiter unten ist eine erste Unterschriftenliste.

http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk/2012/02/sign-the-appeal-for-solidarity-with-the-people-of-greece/

Greek Solidarity Appeal from Tony Benn Έκκληση για αλληλεγγύη στο λαό της Ελλάδας.

Tony Benn, President of the Coalition of Resistance, has made an Appeal for solidarity with the people of Greece. It is receiving strong support. The text in English can be found in the post below this one.

Προσθέστε την υπογραφή σας για τη δήλωση αλληλεγγύης προς το λαό της Ελλάδας ,η οποία δημοσιεύτηκε στην εφημερίδα Guardian και υποστηρίζεται από ηγετικά μέλη συνδικάτων, μέλη του Κοινοβουλίου και ακτιβιστές.

Ο λαός της Ελλάδας είναι αντιμέτωπος με μια πρωτοφανή οικονομική και πολιτική κρίση. Οδηγούνται στη φτώχεια και στη μαζική ανεργία εξαιτίας των απαιτήσεων της επονομαζόμενης Τρόικας – της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης, της Ευρωπαϊκής Κεντρικής Τράπεζας και του Διεθνούς Νομισματικού Ταμείου οι οποίοι έχουν επιβάλει το Λουκά Παπαδήμο, πρώην αντιπρόεδρο της ΕΚΤ, ως πρωθυπουργό.

Νοσοκομεία στην Ελλάδα ξεμένουν από βασικά φάρμακα, σχεδόν οι μισοί από τους  νέους είναι άνεργοι, εργαζόμενοι σε μερικούς τομείς είναι απλήρωτοι εδώ και μήνες, και αρκετοί αναγκάζονται να καταφύγουν σε συσσίτια ή να ψάχνουν στα σκουπίδια.

Τώρα η Τρόικα απαιτεί μείωση του κατώτατου μισθού κατά 23%, την απόλυση δεκάδων χιλιάδων εργαζομένων στο δημόσιο τομέα και τον αποδεκατισμό των συντάξεων που έχουν ήδη χάσει σχεδόν το 50% της αξίας τους. Το διεθνές κεφάλαιο εκποιεί μια ολόκληρη χώρα και διαλύει τον κοινωνικό της ιστό.

Η Ελλάδα βρίσκεται στο μεταίχμιο των μέτρων λιτότητας που εισάγονται σε ολόκληρη την Ευρώπη. Όλα τα στοιχεία δείχνουν ότι ενώ τα μέτρα αυτά προστατεύουν τα συμφέροντα των πλουσίων, κάνουν απλά χειρότερα τα πράγματα για την πλειοψηφία του πληθυσμού. Αυτό που συμβαίνει στην Ελλάδα σήμερα, θα το δούμε αύριο να συμβαίνει στην Πορτογαλία και στην Ιρλανδία μεθαύριο. Στη Βρετανία, η κυβέρνηση Συνασπισμού επιδιώκει παρόμοια μέτρα που θα φέρουν περικοπές στις αποδοχές των εργαζομένων, περισσότερα χρόνια εργασίας για μικρότερη σύνταξη και τη διάλυση του ΕΣΥ συμπεριλαμβανομένων και άλλων δημόσιων υπηρεσιών.

Ο Μίκης Θεοδωράκης, ο διάσημος Έλληνας συνθέτης του Χορού του Ζορμπά, και ο Μανώλης Γλέζος, βετεράνος αντιστασιακός μαχητής κατά της ναζιστικής κατοχής, έχουν εκδώσει μια δήλωση καλώντας για τη δημιουργία ενός Ευρωπαϊκού Μετώπου με σκοπό την υπεράσπιση του λαού της Ελλάδας καθώς και όλων εκείνων που αντιμετωπίζουν λιτότητα.

Ο Συνασπισμός Αντίστασης (Coalition of Resistance) και της Χάρτας του Λαού (People’s Charter) αποφάσισαν να υποστηρίξουν αυτή την έκκληση και συμφώνησαν να συνεργαστούν με συνδικάτα, ακτιβιστικές καμπάνιες και κόμματα σε όλη την Ευρώπη για τη δημιουργία μιας Ευρωπαϊκής Εκστρατείας Αλληλεγγύης για την υπεράσπιση του λαού της Ελλάδας. Η εκστρατεία έχει στόχο την οργάνωση αλληλεγγύης και την αύξηση πρακτικής υποστήριξης για το λαό της Ελλάδας. Δε γίνεται να υποχρεωθούν να πληρώσουν για μια κρίση για την οποία δεν ευθύνονται.

Σας γράφουμε για να σας ζητήσουμε να προσυπογράψετε αυτή την εκστρατεία και να την δημοσιοποιήσετε και σε άλλους.

Παρακάτω βρίσκεται η λίστα των αρχικών υπογραφών. Θα απευθύνουμε πρόσκληση για μια οργανωμένη συνάντηση για αυτή την εκστρατεία μέσα στην επόμενη εβδομάδα.

Andrew Burgin – Γραμματέας, Συνασπισμός Αντίστασης (Coalition of Resistance)

Tony Benn – Πρόεδρος, Συνασπισμός Αντίστασης (Coalition of Resistance)

John Hendy – Συμπρόεδρος, People’s Charter

Len McCluskey – Γενικός γραμματέας, UNITE

Mark Serwotka ­– Γενικός γραμματέας, PCS

Christine Blower ­– Γενική γραμματέας NUT

Bob Crow – Γενικός γραμματέας, RMT

Billy Hayes – Γενικός γραμματέας, CWU

Michelle Stanistreet – Γενική γραμματέας, NUJ

Manuel Cortes – Γενικός γραμματέας, TSSA

Sally Hunt, Γενική γραμματέας UCU

Matt Wrack –, Γενικός γραμματέας FBU

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Caroline Lucas MP

John McDonnell MP

Tariq Ali, Συγγραφέας

Romayne Phoenix – Chair Coalition of Resistance

Imran Khan – Co Chair People’s Charter

Frank Cooper – Πρόεδρος National Pensioners Convention [pc]

Owen Jones

Lee Jasper ­­– BARAC

Paul Mackney – Vice-Chair, Coalition of Resistance (former GS NATFHE/UCU)

Ann Pettifor, New Economics Foundation

James Meadway – Ανώτερος Οικονομολόγος, New Economics Foundation

Kate Hudson

Lindsey German

Rachel Newton – Convenor People’s Charter

Sean Rilla Razka – Εκλεγμένος Πρόεδρος ULU

Pete Murry Green Party Trade Union Group

Peter Allen Convenor Green Left

Patrick Sikorski RMT

Chris Bambery

Clare Solomon – συν-εκδότρια Springtime: The New Student Rebellions

Cherry Sewell – Coalition of Resistance

Cat Boyd Chair Coalition of Resistance Glasgow

Aaron Kiely, NUS National Executive

Fiona Edwards, Student Broad Left

John Rees, Counterfire

Fred Leplat, Socialist Resistance

International Socialist Group, Scotland

Heinrich Buecker, Berlin gegen Krieg, (Anti-War Cafe Berlin)

Martin Mayer, UNITE Executive Council member for Passenger Transport

Dr Jack Czauderna, (συνταξιούχος γενικός ιατρός)

Dr Maureen O’Leary, (συνταξιούχος Σύμβουλος Ψυχίατρος)

and many more… to sign up visit www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk

 

Greek Solidarity Appeal from Tony Benn

Tony Benn, President of the Coalition of Resistance, has launched this Appeal for solidarity with the people of Greece. It is already backed by the overwhelming majority of the trades union movement.

The people of Greece face an unprecedented economic and political crisis. They are being driven to poverty and mass unemployment by the demands of the so-called Troika – the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund which has imposed Lucas Papademos as Prime Minister.

Hospitals in Greece are running out of basic medicines, nearly half of all young people are unemployed, workers in some sectors have not been paid for months, and many are forced to resort to soup kitchens or scavenge from rubbish dumps.

Now the Troika demands a cut of 23% to the minimum wage, the sacking of tens of thousands of public sector workers and the decimation of pensions which have already lost nearly 50% of their value. International capital is asset stripping an entire country and ripping apart its social fabric.

Greece is at the cutting edge of the austerity measures that are being introduced across Europe. All the evidence shows that while these measures may protect the interests of the rich, they just make matters worse for the majority of the population. What happens in Greece today we will see in Portugal tomorrow and in Ireland the day after. In Britain, the Coalition government is pursuing similar measures which will see workers’ earnings reduced, working longer for a smaller pension, and the NHS dismantled along with other public services.

Mikis Theodorakis, famous Greek composer of Zorba’s Dance, and Manolis Glezos, veteran resistance fighter against the Nazi occupation, have issued a statement calling for a European Front to defend the people of Greece and all those facing austerity.

The Coalition of Resistance, at its National Council meeting in Birmingham on the 11th February 2012 unanimously decided to support this call and agreed to work with trades unions, campaigns and parties across Europe to establish a European Solidarity Campaign to defend the people of Greece.  The campaign aims to organise solidarity and raise practical support for the people ofGreece; they cannot be made to pay for a crisis for which they are not responsible.

We are writing to you to ask you to endorse this campaign and to publicise it to others.

Tony Benn – President, Coalition of Resistance

Andrew Burgin – Secretary, Coalition of Resistance

Len McCluskey – General Secretary, UNITE

Mark Serwotka ­– General Secretary, PCS

Christine Blower, General Secretary, NUT

Sally Hunt, General Secretary, UCU

Bob Crow – General Secretary, RMT

Billy Hayes – General Secretary, CWU

Michelle Stanistreet – General Secretary, NUJ

Manuel Cortes – General Secretary, TSSA

Matt Wrack – General Secretary, FBU

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Caroline Lucas MP

John McDonnell MP

 


“Greece – a country being bled white by those who claim to save it”

This contribution from Sonia Mitralia, in the opening session of the “Europe against Austerity” Conference, organized by the Coalition of Resistance in October 2011, was greeted by a standing ovation.

I come from Greece, a country being bled white and destroyed by those who claim to save it, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission. After the adoption, application and above all the failure of the four shock treatments known as the Memoranda, and the current application of the fifth, which is the toughest and most inhuman, Greece is no longer the country that we knew: now, the streets are empty after sunset, restaurants are desperately seeking clients and the stores on the deserted shopping streets fall into ruins.The reason for this transformation is given by these facts and figures: wage earners and pensioners have already lost 30%-50% and sometimes even more of their purchasing power. Which has the effect that approximately 30% of stores and 35% of fuel pumps have closed forever. That unemployment will probably hit 30% next year. That there will be 40% less hospitals and hospital beds, or that the Greek state was a few days ago unable to provide school books to its school children, who were asked to make photocopies, and so on and on. In short, that hunger, yes hunger, begins to make its appearance in the major cities while suicides are growing in a country thrown into stress and despair.

However, Greeks are not only desperate. They are also combative, they resist, and they struggle. Especially, after the appearance at the end of May 2011 of the movement of the Aganaktismeni, the Greek indignad@s, who filled the squares of hundreds of Greek cities with huge radicalized crowds with two key slogans: “we owe nothing, we sell nothing, we pay nothing.” And “all of them must go”.

But beware: to resist in Greece in the epoch of the barbaric austerity of the Memoranda is not easy. First, due to the repression which is terrible, systematic, and inhumane. Then, because of the importance of the issue: Greece is currently a world test case, a true global laboratory in which the capacity of resistance of peoples to structural adjustment plans is tested during the great crisis of public debt. In sum, all eyes, whether of those at the top or those at the bottom, are now turned to this small European country which has the misfortune of becoming the global guinea pig of the most cynical neoliberalism. The result is that to win the least demand practically means overthrowing the government and, neither more nor less, the revolution!

The lesson that we draw from this totally unprecedented situation is that, today more than yesterday, there is no salvation within national boundaries. Faced with the Sacred Alliance of governments and those at the top, coordination and networking of the resistances of those at the bottom is the sine qua non of any hope of success! In simpler words, in order for the Greek test not to run to the benefit of our executioners of the infamous troika, i.e. the IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Commission, we must unite our forces as quickly as possible, to form the Sacred Alliance of those at the bottom!

It was not a coincidence that the first international conference against debt and austerity measures was organized in Athens in early May 2011, by the Greek Initiative for an International Commission of Audit of Public Debt, a movement of which I am a founding member. The great success of this first International Conference had surprised us pleasantly but, in reality, it was doubly premonitory: first, because only two weeks later, the movement of the Greek indignant burst on the social and political scene with the occupation of Syntagma square in Athens. Then, because it became increasingly clear not only that the issue of public debt is was at the root of all the major issues of our time, but that the independent mobilization around the demand for an audit of the public debt was more than possible, because it met a true popular demand!

I think that the lesson that can be drawn from the experience of the Greek Initiative for a Commission of Audit of Public Debt is no longer valid only for the Greece. It is also valid for all other countries attacked by the financial markets, the troika and capital: the audit of public debt may, at first glance, appear a thankless activity, not very attractive and reserved for specialists, but in reality it is able to inspire and mobilise large crowds on two conditions: first, that it is totally independent of the institutions and supported by citizens mobilized in their neighbourhoods, their places of work and study. And then, that it seeks clearly to identify the illegitimate part of the debt to cancel and not pay!

Five months after this first international conference in Athens against austerity measures and the debt, we can measure the ground covered: the Greek initiative is being emulated almost everywhere in Europe, south and north, in western and in eastern Europe. The task that this situation imposes on us all is clear: these movements and campaigns on the audit of public debt should soon meet and establish networks. And this so as to make their action more effective and the meet expectations of the peoples, before it’s too late for everyone.

It is exactly this task that has been taken on by the CADTM, the Committee for Cancellation of the Third World Debt, of which I am also a member, and which combines its expertise – the result of twenty years of struggle alongside the poor in the South of the planet – with its presence in the field of struggles in several European countries. The theoretical and practical contribution of the CADTM in the development of the movement against the debt and austerity in Greece and other countries has been and remains very important. But I fear that in order to meet the new challenges thrown up by a situation of a veritable war to the death between rich and poor, we need much more than the CADTM, or all the other international networks that are fighting courageously against the debt and austerity. We need many more activist forces, much more programmatic development and especially much more coordination across national boundaries.

I would now like to finish with something close to my heart: autonomous organization, or rather the self-organization and the struggle of women against the debt and austerity. If women are the first victims of the current neoliberal aggression against wage earners and all of society, it is not only because they are laid off en masse and as a priority. It is mainly because a cornerstone of this aggression, namely the destruction and privatization of public services, has as a direct result that women are forced to assume within the family public utility tasks assumed until yesterday by the state. In sum, women are now called on to provide at home, in private, the services once offered by kindergartens, hospitals, hospices for the elderly, unemployment funds, psychiatric establishments, and even social security. And all absolutely free of charge! And more, all this in the ideological packaging of a forced return to home and family by a so-called “nature” of woman accepted only as the obedient slave of others! In short by a return to the most abject patriarchy, which is combined with a frontal attack against the few rights that we women retain.

My conclusion will be categorical: that is why women need to organize independently to combat debt and austerity. If they do not, there is no one who will do it in their place.

Thank you.

Sonia Mitralia is a feminist activist in Greece and member of CADTM Greece.

Common Appeal for the Rescue of the Peoples of Europe


Mikis Theodorakis
amd Manolis Glezos have issued this Appeal to the peoples of Europe

65 years after the defeat of nazism and fascism, European people are today confronting a dramatic threat, this time not military, but a financial, social and political one. A new “Empire of Money” has been systematically attacking one European country after another in the last 18 months, without facing any substantial resistance.

European governments not only fail to organize a collective defence of European people against the markets, but, instead, try to “calm” the markets by imposing policies that remind us of the way governments tried to confront nazism in the ’30s.

They organize “debt wars” between the peoples of Europe, just like when they were driven from the belle époque to World War 1. The offensive of the markets initiated a war against Greece, an EU member-state, whose people have played a decisive role in the resistance against barbarity and the liberation of European World War 2. In the beginning, this war was a communicative war, which reminded us of the campaigns against hostile, outcast countries, like Iraq or Yugoslavia. This campaign presented Greece as a country of lazy and corrupted citizens, while attempting to blame the “PIIGS” of Europe and not the international banks for the debt crisis.

Shortly, this offensive evolved into a financial one, which caused the submission of Greece under a status of limited sovereignty and the intervention of the IMF to the internal affairs of the Eurozone.

When they got what they wanted fromGreece, the markets targeted the other, smaller or larger countries of the European periphery. The aim is one and common in all cases: The full guarantee of the interests of the banks against the states, the demolition of the European welfare state, which has been a cornerstone of European democracy and culture, the demolition of European states and the submission of the remaining state structures to the new “International of Money”.

The EU, which was presented to its peoples as a means for collective progress and democracy, tends to become the means for terminating prosperity and democracy. It was introduced as a means of resistance to globalization, but the markets wish it to be an instrument of this globalization.

It was introduced to German and other European peoples as a means of peaceful increase of their power and prosperity, but the way that all peoples are abandoned to be the pray of financial markets, destroys the image of Europe and turns the markets into actors of a new financial totalitarianism, into the new bosses of Europe.

We are facing the danger of repeating the financial equivalent of World War 1 and World War 2 in our continent and be dissolved into chaos and decomposition, in favor of an international Empire of Money and Weapons, in the economic epicentre of which lies the power of the markets.

The peoples of Europe and the world are facing a historically unprecedented concentration of financial but also political and media power by the international financial capital, ie by a handful of financial institutes, rating agencies and a political and media class redeemed by them, with more centers outside, than inside Europe. These are the markets that attack today in one European country after another, using the leverage of debt to demolish the European welfare state and democracy.

The “Empire of Money” now requires a fast, violent, brutal transformation of a Eurozone country, Greece, into a country of the third world, with a so-called program of “rescue”, in fact the “rescue” of banks who lent the country. In Greece, the alliance of banks and the political leaderships imposed -through the EU, the ECB and the IMF – a program that equals to “economic and social murder” of the country and its democracy, and organizes the looting of the country before the bankruptcy to which it leads, wishing to make it the scapegoat of the global financial crisis and use it as a “paradigm” to terrorize all European peoples.

The policy that is currently conducted in Greece and attempts to spread, is the same applied in Pinochet’s Chile, Yeltsin’s Russia or Argentina and will have the same results, if not discontinued immediately. As a result of a program that supposedly intended to help the country,Greeceis now on the verge of economic and social disaster; it is used as a guinea pig to study people’s reactions to social Darwinism and terrify the entire European Union, with what can happen to one of its members.

The markets may also be pushing and using the leadership of Germany in actions of destruction of the European Union. But it constitutes an act of extreme political and historical blindness for the dominant forces of the EU and first of all, forGermany, to think that there can be any project of European integration or even simple cooperation, on the ruins of one or moremembers of the Eurozone.

The planned demolition of major, globally significant political and social achievements of the European peoples, can not establish any kind of European Union. It will lead to chaos and disintegration and it will promote the emergence of fascist solutions in our continent.

In 2008 private banking giants of Wall Street forced the states and state banks to bail them out of the crisis they themselves created, by paying with the taxpayers’ money the cost of their enormous fraud, such as mortgages, but also the operational cost of an unregulated casino-capitalism, imposed in the last twenty years. They turned their own crisis into a public debt crisis.

Now they are using the crisis and debt, which they themselves created, to deprive the states and the citizens of the few powers they still hold.

This is one part of the debt crisis. The other is that financial capital, together with the political forces supporting it globally, imposed an agenda of neoliberal globalization, which inevitably leads to the relocation of production outside Europe and the downward convergence of social and ecological standards of Europe with those of the Third World. For many years they hid this process behind loans, but now they use the loans to complete it.

The “International of Money”, that wishes to eliminate any notion of state in Europe, threatens Greece today, Italy or Portugal tomorrow; it encourages the confrontation among European peoples and puts the European Union before the dilemma whether to transform into a dictatorship of the markets or to dissolve. It aims at makingEuropeand the world to regress in a state like the one before 1945, or even before the French Revolution and the Enlightenment

In ancient times, the abolition, by Solon, of the debts which forced the poor to be slaves of the rich, the so-called Seisachtheia reform, laid the foundations for the birth, in ancientGreece, of the ideas of democracy, citizenship, politics andEurope, the foundations of European and world culture.

Struggling against the class of wealth, the citizens of Athens led the way in the constitution of Pericles and the political philosophy of Protagoras, who declared that “Man is the measure above all money”.

Today, the wealthy classes are attempting to avenge this spirit of man: “The markets are the measure above all men” is the motto that our political leaderships willingly embrace, in alliance with the devil of money, as Faust did.

A handful of international banks, rating agencies, investment funds, a global

concentration of financial capital without historical precedent, claims power in

Europe and the world and prepares to abolish the states and our democracy, using the weapon of debt to enslave the peoples of Europe, putting in place of the incomplete democracy we have, the dictatorship of Money and Banks; the power of a totalitarian empire of globalization, the political center of which is outside continental Europe, despite the presence of powerful European banks at the heart of the empire.

They started fromGreece, using it as a guinea pig, to move then to the other countries of the European periphery, and gradually to the center. The hope of some European countries to eventually escape, just proves that today’s European leaders face the threat of a new “financial fascism”, not better than the way they faced the threat of Hitler during the inter-war period.

It is not by accident that a big part of the media controlled by bankers chose to attack against the European periphery, by naming these countries as “pigs”, and also turned to a contemptuous, sadistic, racist campaign of the media they own, not only against the Greeks, but against the ancient Greek heritage and the ancient Greek civilization.

This choice shows the deeper, underlying goals of the ideology and the values of financial capital, which promotes capitalism of destruction.

The attempt of a part of the German media to humiliate symbols such as the

Acropolis or the Venus de Milo, monuments which were respected even by Hitler’s officers, is nothing but an expression of the deep disdain of bankers, who control these media, not so much against the Greeks, but mainly against the ideas of freedom and democracy, which were born in this country.

The financial monster produced four decades of tax exemption for the capital, all kinds of “market liberalization”, widespread deregulation, abolition of all barriers to the flows of capital and commodities, constant attacks against the state, massive acquisition of political parties and media, ownership of the global surplus from a handful of vampire-banks of Wall Street. Now, this monster, a true “state behind the States”, is revealed claiming the completion of the financial and political “permanent coup d’ etat”, carried out for over than four decades.

Facing this attack, the political forces of the European right-wing and social democracy seem compromised after decades of “entryism” by financial capital, the most important centers of which are non-European. On the other hand, trade-unions and social movements are still not strong enough to block this attack decisively, like they repeatedly did in the past. The new financial totalitarianism seeks to take advantage of this situation, in order to impose finite, irreversible conditions across Europe.

There is an urgent need for an immediate, cross-border coordination of action by intellectuals, people of the arts and literature, spontaneous movements, social forces and personalities who comprehend the importance of the stakes; we need to create a powerful front of resistance against the advancing “totalitarian empire of globalization”, before it is too late.

Europecan survive only if we promote a united response against the markets, a challenge bigger than theirs, a new European «New Deal».

  • We must immediately stop the attack againstGreeceand other countries of the EU periphery; we must stop the irresponsible and criminal policy of austerity and privatization, which leads directly to a crisis deeper than the one of 1929.
  •  Public debts must be radically restructured across the Eurozone, particularly on the expense of the private banking giants. Banks must be re-controlled and the financing of European economy must be under national and European social control. It is not possible to let the financial keys ofEuropein the hands of banks like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, UBS, the Deutsche Bank etc. We must ban the uncontrolled financial derivatives, which are the spearhead of the destructive financial capitalism, and create real economic development, instead of speculative profits.
  • The present architecture, based on the Maastricht Treaty and the WTO rules, has established a debt production machine inEurope. We need a radical change of all Treaties, the submission of the ECB under political control by the European peoples, a “golden rule” for minimum social, fiscal, environmental standards inEurope. We urgently need a change of paradigm; a return to the stimulation of growth through the stimulation of demand, via new European investment programs, a new regulation, taxation and control of international capital and commodities flows; a new form of smart and reasonable protectionism in an independent Europe, which will be the protagonist in the fight for a multipolar, democratic, ecological, social planet.

We appeal to the forces and individuals who share these ideas, to converge into a broad, European front of action as soon as possible; to produce a European transitional program, to coordinate our international action, so as to mobilize the forces of the popular movement, to reverse the current balance of power and overthrow the current historically irresponsible leaderships of our countries, in order to save our people and our societies before it is too late for Europe.

Athens, October 2011

 

Riots : the voices of the unheard angry and alienated youth

The continuing economic crisis has claimed millions of victims across the globe, argues Lee Jasper of Black Activists Rising against Cuts (BARAC). The promise of globalisation was never anything more than simple unrestrained capitalism. The reality is that reckless casino banks having been bailed out by taxpayers are now devouring nations’ economies and destroying the social and economic gains made by working people right across Europe.

We are not only witnessing a global economic crisis of enormous proportions, parallel to that we are witnessing a crisis in the political and moral legitimacy of the institutions of state. Throughout the world we are seeing the effects of this crisis in the brutal ideological economic and political attacks by the wealthy European elites on the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society.

However the resistance of peoples and communities throughout the world is growing and through the Occupy movements, trade unions, the poor and disenfranchised people are mobilizing in defence of their rights on an unprecedented scale. Throughout the world we see stiff opposition to Governments attempts to return employee terms and conditions to the industrial dark ages. Students, public sector workers, community and voluntary organisations and poor black and white working class communities are rising up in opposition to the so-called age of austerity.

Here in the UK we saw that rage explode. In August thousands of people rioted spontaneously in response to the shooting of a black man Mark Duggan in Tottenham.

The Guardian’s recent survey of young people who took part in the riots confirmed what most of on the left already knew. The riots were political in character. My own view expressed at the time was that racist and aggressive police stop and searches, the increasing number of black men dying suspicious deaths in police custody and the savage nature of public sector cuts were main motivations of the majority of rioters.

One of the main motivations for taking to the streets was the opportunity to attack the police. Years of pent up frustration with police brutality, increasing rates of racism and stop and search have resulted in the police being viewed in many majority black areas as an oppressive army of occupation. Racism aggression and injustice have been their lot for too long and the shooting of Mark Duggan acted as a catalyst for an inelegant uprising against injustice.

The increase in University fees, cuts to the Education Maintenance Awards, rising youth unemployment against a backdrop of cuts to youth service provision, large scale public sector redundancies faced by their parents and draconian cuts to welfare benefits has created a vast reservoir of anger and discontent. Their sense of deep outrage and injustice was further inflamed by the fact that not only were the bankers bailed out at the expense of the poorest sections of our community, they suffered the gross ignominy of having to watch bankers continue to pay themselves huge bonuses.

As I stood on the streets of Brixton on the night of the disturbances young people carrying huge flat screen televisions told me that as far as they were concerned what they we engaged in was the moral equivalent of MPs expenses and bankers bonuses scandals. They immediately recognised that in the UK there is one law for financial white collar crimes and quite another for black people and those from poor working class communities. The moral and political distrust of institutions and politicians’ can be traced back to the Blair administrations lies over the Iraq war and weapons of mass destruction despite the majority of British people being opposed to that illegal war. Since that time British people have become increasing critical and lacking in trust

Since then the MPs’ and Lords’ expenses scandal, the bankers’ bonuses and bailouts, cuts to public sector spending, the illegal and disgraceful activities of News International, disproportionate sentencing for rioters and light sentencing for MPs for guilty of fraud, the failure of the IPCC to properly investigate police deaths in custody, police brutality corruption and rampant racism in stop and search has culminated in the collapse of trust confidence in neo-liberal democracy and its institutions. Alongside this an absence of hope and opportunity for Britain’s poorest communities has come a profound moral crisis that critically challenges the lack of political and judicial impartiality and inability to demonstrate equality and fairness before the law.

Cameron Government refuses to recognise racism, social and economic injustice

This outpouring of anger was described by British PM David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson as being nothing more than an act of mass criminality. They spoke of the ‘ feral underclass” as being a good for nothing, lazy inherently criminal class. The Coalition Government sought to dismiss the riots as being motivated by nothing more than greed and a sense of entitlement from the “undeserving poor”.

The media, with a few notable exceptions, have generally conspired to play down the extent to which the police were the focus of people’s anger that night. Right across the country there are reports of police officers being the primary target. Most mainstream media focused on the effects on local businesses, those who suffered arson and those that tragically lost their lives. Most have chosen to completely ignore the underlying social and political issues that gave rise to the riots.

The reality is that that the events in August were a direct political statement of opposition to racism, inequality and injustice. Of course as with any outbreak of large-scale disorder there is always an opportunistic criminal element.  It is in the interests of both Governments and the police to focus on criminality as an explanation of the riots. The politically unacceptable alternative would be to admit that Government cuts, inequality, poverty, institutional racism and injustice were the primary causes.

The backdrop to events in August needs to be understood in its proper context.

British Justice favours the rich and condemns the poor

Over the last three years we have experienced increasing levels of institutional police racism. The gains made as a result of the McPherson recommendations have come under constant attack and now widely undermined and ignored. Central Government has made it clear that racism in policing is no longer a priority concern and as a result the police have returned to their cultural default setting of rampant institutional racism.

In doing so the Government has fast-forwarded back to the future, returning us to the dark days of the 1980s where police and black community relations were at their worst.

Deaths in police custody

In March of this year I described the UK black community as being at “boiling point “ in the immediate aftermath of the death in police custody of the reggae star Smiley Culture.  In the following five months unbelievably we saw four more black men dying in suspicious circumstances in police custody.

The deaths of Smiley Culture, Kingsley Burrell, Demetre Fraser and Mark Duggan in Tottenham heated police black community relations to ‘boiling point.’ For anyone who was paying attention the signs have been there for all to see.

The reality is that as these official Metropolitan Police Authority figures show that since the election of this Coalition Government and Boris Johnson became Mayor of London deaths in police custody increased massively.

Year Black & Asian Other Total
1998-99

6

11

17

1999-00

4

12

16

2000-01

2

5

7

2001-02

4

5

9

2002-03

10

7

17

2003-04

6

9

15

2004-05

3

11

14

2005-06

7

10

17

2006-07

8

7

15

2007-08

7

9

16

2008-09

13

15

28

2009-10

13

11

24

2010-11

10

16

26

2011-12 to end of October 2011

2

6

8

It remains a scandal that not a single police officer has ever been convicted of the murder of a citizen.

Stop and search

Despite vehement denials by the police and Government about the widespread extent of  ‘racial profiling‘, citing reams of equality policies and procedures, the reality is policing canteen culture eats police equality policy for breakfast.

According to the Ministry of Justice latest figures London has seen black stop and search rates increase from 118,000 people in 2004/5 rising to 205,708 in 2009. In the UK black people are 7 times more likely to be stopped and searched. The criminal justice system then amplifies police racism. Black people who do get arrested are 3.5 times more likely to be charged than whites and if found guilty will receive on average sentence of 20 months compared to 14 months sentencing average for white people. For 1000 white people there are 1.2 people in jail for the Asian community that figure is 2.4 per 1000 and for black people in the UK that figure is a staggering 7 people per thousand.

The PM himself has ordered the judiciary to hand out exemplary sentences to rioters contrary to the law and any notion of the concept of fair and equal justice.

PM David Cameron and London Mayor Boris’s Johnson shared Thatcherite political ideology means they refuse to recognise the reality of class prejudice and police racism and by doing so have given a green light to what is now an unrestrained torrent of injustice and police racism. This explains the PM’s constant attack on the concept of multiculturalism and the subsequent down grading of race equality policy within government the police service.

They can’t say they were not warned. Tottenham activists Stafford Scott and myself who alongside others pointed out the growing sense of racism anger and frustration that was apparent prior to the riots. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has shredded the last vestiges of its waning credibility in the handling of both the Smiley Culture and Mark Duggan cases. At the time of Mark Duggan’s death the IPCC were seen to be colluding with the Metropolitan Police Service to cover up the facts surrounding Marks death falsely confirming that he had shot at a police officer. That was a lie and at the time everyone knew it.

The acute and willful failure of both Government and the Mayor of London to accept the reality of the impact of profound economic injustice and their tacit promotion of racism comes at a huge economic and social cost to the country. We are bound to seem more riots if the root causes are not recognised and acted upon.

The reality of institutionalised racism within British criminal justice system compounded by the stark and growing levels of economic inequality provide a credible and more objective explanation for the disturbances in August.

Public sector cuts

The vast sums of taxpayers’ money used to bailout the banks contrasted with the huge cuts to public spending illustrate the profound right wing ideological nature of this Coalition Government. Global capitalism is completely out of control and now seeks to subvert even democracy itself as we have seen in both Greece and Italy.

The gap between the poorest members of our society and the richest continues to grow. UK income inequality is the fourth largest of any country in the world. Social mobility has decreased whilst child poverty rates and youth unemployment are on the increase.

Young people today face a future that has been robbed of its promise by a free market that is anything but free. The reality is that western neo-liberal democratic capitalism is in crisis and the moral and political underpinnings of its free market philosophical basis revealed as fundamentally predatory and inherently exploitive of the poor and the vulnerable.

Those young people who took part in the riots see hundreds of thousands of their parents being made redundant and their retirement pensions slashed. They see their youth clubs and employment support projects being shut down. Some are forced to move home because of housing benefit restrictions forcing families out of their homes, they can’t afford higher education and they cant get a job. For them this misery has no end in sight.

The cuts to the Education Maintenance Award providing much needed financial support for poor students studying in college is an act of pure political malevolence. 100,000 students have been affected and discarded to the scrap heap of long-term unemployment. That’s why we need to ensure that the riots are properly understood in and the links made between the general struggle against the cuts and the broader effects on vulnerable communities.

As at all times of acute economic decline, racism and scapegoating becomes the order of the day for unscrupulous politicians and sections of a biased media. As we approach the new year with prospect of increased levels of racism it is imperative that the trade union campaigns against public sector cuts ensure that an anti racist approach is woven seamlessly into the fight for economic equality justice and fairness. Support for progressive campaigning organisations such as Black Activists Rising Against Cuts  (BARAC) and the Coalition of Resistance is vital.

Next year alongside widespread strike action we intend to redouble the fight against racism and step up our campaign for full judicial a public inquiry into all suspicious deaths in police custody. We intend to march,protest and fully mobiles all communities in the battle for social and economic justice, fairness and equality.

Lee Jasper is Co-Chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts and Chair of the London Race and Criminal Justice Consortium.

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