By Bostjan Videmsek (Athens)
Photos Jure Erzen
On November 7th, Athens was burning again. In front of the parliament, where another monstruous bargain had been struck, the special police units were hitting children and old women. The most brutal austerity package yet had just been rammed through. In the streets, molotov cocktails were crashing down, slogans were chanted, the teargas was making people weep openly. In this respect, Athens is now officially the weeping capital of Europe.
Again, all of it was probably to no avail. The vote behind the thick parliamentary walls had been fixed in advance. The public infrastructure is being dismantled back into the stone age, and these latest belt-tightening measures are only guaranteed to make things worse. The poor people in the giant laboratory called Greece have not been offered the luxury of choice. Their only option is to rant and protest. And that is so obviously not enough.
A country without sovereignity is hardly a country. Greece is now a grotesque puppet of the global financial markets. The Greek political elite is the sub-contractor hired by foreign interests, principally by the corporation called EU. These interests’ most immediate goal is to turn the land into a pocket of Asia right here in the middle of Europe – to bring East and West a little closer, one could sardonically say. In the name of the holy grail called competiteveness, the people of Greece are being stripped of their way of life.
This, incidentally, is what the future holds in store for the rest of us. How long before the »free-enterprise zones« start sprouting around all of us as well? The »free-enterprise zone« is the production unit favoured by the disaster capitalism set loose upon the world. 400 Euros of monthly pay with no benefits and lots of unpaid overtime: this is what the European worker of tomorrow can reasonably hope to expect. If in this more modern, more competitive Europe someone revolts, fifty other eager slaves will leap up to take his place. At this moment, we might as well put a giant sticker Made In China over the entire continent. Health and education are already the privilege of the rich.
Nazism rears its ugly head
At this stage, is there anything that can stop the neo-liberal rampage? The old, impotent, arrogant, totalitarian and justly beaten ‘left’ no longer has the right to try. The new left seems bashful and without clear ideas of its own. Whom can an angry young man turn to when he wants to enter the political arena? Is there even such a thing as a political solution to this mess? Can the protesters ever transcend the level of street theatre and stand their ground for as long as it takes? Is there really no alternative to widescale bloodshed? 2012 = 1937?
Boštjan Videmšek, Athens
On Wednesday, April 4, nine in the morning saw a 77-year-old man yelling in the middle of the teeming Syntagma square – the emotional centre of the Greek protests against the dictat(orship) imposed by the international monetary institutions. The old man was screaming at the hated parliament building, and his cries amounted to a seething denunciation of the fact that his debt will have to be repaid by his children and his grandchildren. After he’d said his peace he leaned against a tree, pulled a pistol out of his pocket and shot himself in the head.
The suicide of this desperate Greek pensioner carries a heavy symbollic significance. It evokes the spirit of the Czech patriot Jan Pallach, 21, who – protesting the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia – set himself on fire on January 16, 1969. It is also strongly evocative of the self-immolation of Mouhammed al Bouazizi, the Tunisian grocer who triggered off the Arab spring. Leer más