Learning from the World

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Economic Shock, Social Crisis: Tens of thousands challenge the Greek government and European bankers at the Thessaloniki Expo, Sept. 10. Police deployed military-grade tear gas against the largely peaceful protesters.

We arrived in Greece this summer just as street-fighting broke over Athens. For days the police rained tear gas on the people who occupied the capital’s main Syntagma Square. People would disperse and reform right on the steps of the parliament. The subways were turned into medical centers for the wounded.

There is a worldwide movement of rebellion and resistance building. What started in Tunisia and Egypt has shaken and overthrown governments, then jumped to Spain to Greece to England — and now to New York City and across the United States.

In Greece a generation is waking up. They call themselves the Indignant. They reject old politics and the old parties. They refuse to accept the cutbacks and austerity measures imposed by the global banks and the European Union. They are determined, angry and righteous.

They had challenges in Greece. Right-wing ultra-nationalists tried to infiltrate the movement. Police attacked. Some tired left parties condemned the movement saying it’s not focused on elections or minor reforms.

One popular symbol is the helicopter: the people want the Greek government to leave, resign, fly into exile. Or just get the hell out.

And why not here? If the people of Egypt can run out Mubarak, why can’t we run out the American politicians who serve the banks and brutalize us?

The banks are global. They have globalized their sweatshops and cutbacks. We are globalizing the rebellion.

A young woman who is active in this Greek movement of the squares told us:

“I didn’t involve myself with politics directly until 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was killed by police three years ago. An hour after the murder, riots started everywhere — if you were young and a bit active, you couldn’t help but participate.

“This murder was just the beginning for people who were oppressed by the system. After the 1980s the factories were closing, and the youth of Greece found it had nothing. In 2008 unemployment reached a critical point.”

Crisis, unemployment, cutbacks and police murder. Isn’t this what we face here too?

In Greece, we were asked repeatedly: What is happening in the United States? Will you join us? What are you doing?

Now we can answer: We are moving here too. We are learning. We are reaching out.

We don’t have to accept the world imposed on us by banks, politicians and police. We are the future.

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  • zoltan

    I am Greek and I feel uneasy when the occupy Wall Street movement adopts my country as a cause célèbre. Greece faces complex problems, and wrath against the peristing incompetence of our political stewards is justified: we are now in the grip of international loan sharks and losing labour rights which had taken decades to enshrine. However, no concrete ideas are being put forward by the ‘indignant’ movement, whose many disparate voices congeal into an overall tone of populist nihilism. Not unlike this article, which pushes a reductive and lazy diagnosis of ‘crisis, unemployment, cutbacks and police murder’ on Greece. It may not sit well with a leftist analysis, but Greece’s particular problems seem to have at least as much to do with a corrupt, bloated state and widespread tax evasion as the inherent instabilities of global capitalism. Until there are proposals to improve fundamental governance in Greece, the state’s failures will continue to be exploited by our IMF/EU caretakers as justifications for sprawling neoliberal market deregulation.

  • alessandro capece

    The revolution against the globalization will win in a few weeks, when the indignants will have the same program, will act all togheter and will be directed by ONE leader.
    We’ll have to provide to reach these aims.