The economic and political crisis in Greece has escalated, with the rise of the neo Nazi Golden Dawn party and the development of a political movement seeking alternatives to austerity on the radical left, SYRIZA. In the following interview excerpt conducted by Doug Enna Greene of the Boston Occupier, Lalaki offers her understanding of the current situation. -Jeff
DEG: Why do you think Golden Dawn has gained so much support? What measures do you think are necessary to stop them?
DL: Historically when democracies fail, which is followed by disenchantment, political cynicism and disillusionment, a vacuum in created that is often filled by extremist ideologies like that offered by groups such as the Golden Dawn, the Neo-Nazi party that is now member of the Greek Parliament. The GD proclaims an anti-systemic position, provided that they have never been part of what they condemn as the corrupt political system and they pose as defenders of principles such as that of national sovereignty, which has come under assault by the governing bodies of the EU. Suffice it to say that they have no alternative program in place other than expelling all immigrants from the country, the people that they systematically target and accuse for the rising unemployment in Greece while they often unleash assault squads in the streets of Athens, as well as other cities, in order to attack and terrorize individuals or whole immigrant communities.
One cannot hope for any measures to be taken by the Greek government or the police, which most often directly collaborates with the GD. The Nazification of the police at this stage is notorious. Racism is rampant, especially among its lower ranks. We have many examples of cases when they strongly discourage people who have been subjected to attacks from bringing charges against their perpetrators. During antifascist protests, they openly protect the DG and they arrest and prosecute the protesters. In October, fifteen anti-fascist protesters were arrested in Athens during a clash with GD supporters. Following their arrest, they were tortured at the Attica General Police Directorate . . .
Read more: Greece in Crisis: A Recent Interview
To skip this introduction and go directly to Minas Samatas’s In-Depth Analysis of the Greek Election, click here.
It is clear. The recent election in Greece was of critical importance. The fate of that country, of Europe and the global economy all seemed to be in the balance. The establishment reading of those in power in Berlin and other European capitals, and in Washington, as well, was that a victory by the leftist party SYRIZA would be a disaster. On the day of the election, we presented an alternative view by Despina Lalaki .
Today, Minas Samatas deliberately considers the results, suggesting that even though SYRIZA did not win the recent contest, it is winning in the long run and that this is a good thing for very sober reasons. He explores the unprecedented interference in the election by European media and officials. He highlights the way the old guard parties and their supportive media framed the election. He presents the results in some detail. He maintains that the present political configuration will not last. And he thus concludes on a hopeful note:
“The revival of the parliamentary left in France, Italy and Greece, plus the sorely needed, from the point of view of Greece and Europe, re-election of President Obama in the U.S., bring some hope for a developmental turn against the irrationality of austerity in the European crisis and democratic reforms in the European Union. The concept of a unified Europe has been shaken to the core. If the Greek election serves as a wake up call and has promoted a recognition of a necessary change of course, it will be a real democratic win for the people of Europe, and beyond.”
To read “The Greek Election, June 17th, 2012″ click here.
In the May 6th Greek elections, the established ruling parties, the conservative New Democracy and the socialist PASOK were punished, unable to form a government. The voters blamed them for Greece’s debt crisis, and for destroying the country in their attempts to address the crisis.
The subsequent general elections of June 17 led to a flood of attention in the international media and blatant foreign intervention due to their potential economic implications for the Euro currency zone and the global economy. Observers were concerned that a Greek exit from the Euro would have a catastrophic impact on other ailing European states, damaging the US and the entire global economy. There was an unprecedented campaign orchestrated by the Eurocrats, the German government and the German media, which amounted to the blackmailing of the Greek electorate to vote against the parties that want to end the draconian austerity and neoliberal policies.
E.U. officials disregarded the norm of neutrality concerning an independent national election and expressed their opinion about their preferred outcome of Greeks’ vote, threatening “Grexit,” i.e., forcing Greece out of Euro zone, if the radical left wins. The intervention crescendo came on the eve of the election with an open letter of Germany’s Bild newspaper to Greek voters. The tabloid warned:
“Tomorrow you have elections but you do not have any choices….If you don’t want our billions, you are free to elect any left- or right-wing clowns that you want…For more than two years, though, your ATMs are only issuing euros because we put them there. If the parties that want to end austerity and reforms win the elections, they will be breaching all agreements and we will stop paying.”
But it was not only threats by the media and the Euro-area governments. After the May election results, part of Greece’s next aid payment (1billion Euros) was postponed as a warning to Greek politicians and voters to stick to the austerity program.
Repeated Eurocratic interventions over the month before the election of June 17 implied a deep disapproval of potential choices by free citizens. This began in February, when German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble made the incredible suggestion that Greece should hold off the election and allow the interim government . . .
Read more: The Greek Election, June 17th, 2012
The economic crisis in Greece is heading towards yet another showdown today. The Greek electorate threatens to strike a serious blow against neoliberalism and its European offshoot. At the same time, these elections promise to unravel the Greek state’s monopoly on the structures of violence and fear.
Sociologist Charles Tilly drew a compelling analogy between the state as the place of organized means of violence, and racketeering. He defined the racketeer “as someone who creates a threat and then charges for its reduction,” in order to gain control and consolidate power. In this regard, a state and its government differ little from racketeering, to the extent that the threats against which they protect their citizens are imaginary or are consequences of their own activities.
Considering the pain, the humiliation, and the social degradation that the economic and political policies of the Greek government have inflicted upon the country the past four years, Tilly’s analogy may offer us a useful tool to both describe and evaluate the current crisis and the regime of fear that the state has unleashed on the Greek public.
The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), which is now a democratic socialist party in name only, governed Greece for almost 30 years, moving steadily from Keynesian economic policies in the 1980s to rampant neoliberalism in the 1990s. New Democracy (ND), which had dominated the political scene until PASOK’s first electoral victory in 1981 and alternated in power with it ever since, professed its ideology to be “radical liberalism.” Today, after three decades of cronyism, unbridled corruption and economic scandals, the ideological convergence of the two parties is complete.
Despite its initial apprehension towards the European Union, membership in the organzation enabled PASOK to implement its policies and boost the Greek economy. With the help of substantial financial inflows from the European Economic Community, PASOK was able to redistribute wealth.
Despite the growing government deficits, the emphasis remained on sustaining employment and modernizing the welfare system. In the meantime, democratic socialism – enveloped in patronage and nepotism – evolved into a process for democratizing corruption. Deputy . . .
Read more: The Greek Crisis as Racketeering
In this post, Minas Samatas, Professor of Political Sociology, University of Crete, reports that while the Greeks said no to draconian austerity, no to the two ruling parties, and no to European threats of Greece’s exit from euro zone, “Grexit,” they suggested a new path for a democratically legitimate European Union. -Jeff
Μay 6th elections in Greece have sent a loud and clear message: the Greek people said no to the draconian austerity measures that have devastated the country in exchange for dead-end bailouts from the troika of European Union (EU), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Designed by IMF and Eurocrats, the bailout “memorandum” does not guarantee a safe path to move Greece away from disaster, even if implemented in full. The austerity policy gives absolute priority for paying creditors at the expense of citizens’ incomes, without any future prospect of development and growth. It promotes sharp reductions in public spending, shattering the healthcare and educational system, and the “Balkanization” of Greece with salaries under 200 Euros comparable to Bulgaria. The Greek electorate rejected this in no uncertain terms.
They also, and very importantly, said no to the two ruling parties, punishing the socialist PASOK and conservative New Democracy (ND). They are responsible for the dramatic economic crisis and signed the disastrous austerity program (memorandum) to protect the foreign creditors and the banks at the expense of the most vulnerable. The outcome of the ballot expressed anger against the corrupted political elite and its policies. It expressed dismay at the lack of punishment of those responsible for the crisis. It was a call for social justice for those who suffer from the crisis. The election results express the fear and despair of the Greek people affected by the memorandum’s inhumane policy, lurching deeper into poverty and despair by sharp salary and pensions cuts, unfair tax increases, 22% unemployment (with 922 people losing their job per day over the past year), leaving no future for the young people but immigration, leading to over 3,000 persons to suicide.
The conservative New Democracy (ND) came in first place . . .
Read more: Reflections on the Elections in Greece