9th December 2008
Athens burns... but how far will it go?This is more than simply unrulely hooligans, this could be a warning for us all.
I have been following the protests which have effectively brought Greece to a debris strewn stand-still with much interest. Once again, as with Mumbai, twitter and Flkr have been keeping the world up to date with minute by minute eye-witness reporting. As with the mainstream, one obviously has to try to detect and filter bias from what is understandably emotional reporting. Having read many conflicting accounts I thought I'd try to collate my thoughts and see where it plays out..
The Greek government, like its economy, is in a pretty sorry state. With a majority of a whopping one whole seat and corruption rife throughout, Greece has witnessed a privatisation policy which, rather predictably, has led to a growing wealth gap, rising unemployment, a rise in violent crime and poverty and continued police brutality (something which amnesty international today condemned). I say predictably because as many people know (it was after all the central theme of Naomi Klein's new bestseller Shock Doctrine), this is what always happens when a state attempts to push such harmful reforms through. Some countries fare better than others... the UK for instance decided on going to war with Argentina to pull people onside (though they didn't skip the police brutality).
Many Articles speak of the selfish and destructive mob of holligans terrorising Greece. I do not doubt for one second that there are groups of youths who are, quite simply, cunts and who are quite rightly admonished for their behaviour. Yet these articles invariably fail to mention the thousands willing to face tear gas and riot police whilst remaining steadfastly non-violent. Nor do they mention the, in my mind at least, legitimate groups who are willing to stand up and fight for the kind of state that they feel people deserve.
Lets get this straight. When a corrupt government gets rich by privatising the state at the cost to the people, they have every right to demand change. If the state then uses the police to repress this dissent, people are fully justified in fighting back. I understand that the pros and cons of the free market is a decisive subject. It is roughly divided like this. Much of America believe it to be the economic ideal (overlooking their own heavy subsidising of key industries), as do the ruling corporate/political elites in charge of countries where and when it was enacted and a smattering of intellectuals around the world. On the otherside of the fence lie the millions of people who have suffered throughout the years: witnessing their rulers siphon billions of dollars, the WTO blackmailing them and depriving them of any future prosperity through outrageous debt, suffering military juntas and severe repression. Standing side by side with these victims of the silent economic war that we in the west have been sheltered from even seeing are those that have refused to be blind-folded. Anarchists are one of those groups.
Anarchists are not simply bitter hooligans. Sure, a minority have no objection to using violence. Yet as I outlined above, there are situations in which it is necessary (had it not been for the anarchists leading the uprising in Spain, Franco could have walked over Spain from the start). The simple fact is that anarchists, like a growing number of young people now that the internet is considered an integral part of our development, are well-read, politically aware and share a common theme of believing in the equality of all.
They are all aware of the effects of the free-market: how it has brought war and repression to numerous countries and millions of people, and here, before their eyes, unfettered greed has wrought a mighty blow upon the world under the banner of capitalism. The coming depression promises harsher economic conditions and a rise in poverty. To see infrastructure crumble for lack of money whilst $27 billion has found its way to Greek Banks in bail-outs is simply to much to bare.
Another thing of note about anarchists, and all actvists in general, is the incredible networking capabilities now available. Twitter and Flkr capture countless acts of police brutality and mob retaliations which are disseminated and read by people all over the world. It is in these networks of young, active groups which the most interesting developments lie. The solidarity felt at an international level, particularly in Germany and France, is really quite remarkable. For this reason I wonder whether this is really the extent of the hostilities. If we really are about to enter the kind of depression many fear, frustration at the vast sums given to banks, the vast bonuses and the greed which infects the financial sector and the universal corruption in politics will manifest itself in similar riots around Europe and beyond.
It will no longer simply be about how we can get back to being a stable credit-fuelled consumer society in a world which cannot afford to consume on an ever-expanding orgy of luxery-fucking. As liberal democracy attempts to hold on to the jet-set corporate mentality of placing profit over a fair and just society, it will come up against an ever increasing and ever more militant educated generation who place the planet and people first.