by Stathis Gourgouris
The historical fact that Athens was the birthplace of democracy has been haunting the crowds assembled for nearly two months in the city’s Syntagma (Constitution) Square, right across from the House of Parliament, protesting undaunted against the government’s incapacity to represent and protect the interests of its own society. The consistent invocation of Athenian democracy by the crowds is hardly the result of patriotic longing for glorious ancestry. The people are haunted by a historical fact that, though imprisoned in its own myth, has emerged with radical contemporary significance as the last line of defense against the violation of people’s basic dignity.
Thus, the question of Athenian democracy is suddenly no longer confined to academic discussions but put to the test in real living conditions. Over several weeks, thousands of people emerging from the anonymity of sprawling urban life have come together to inhabit a public space, day and night, and to organize it around a collective political interrogation. They have been named the indignants, after a similar initiative in Spain and the best seller pamphlet by French Resistance elder Stéphane Hessel Indignez Vous! (2010), but for many of them indignation has been focused, in unprecedented fashion, on exemplary self-organization and self-education in the ways and troubles of radical democracy. Read the rest of this entry »
By Illan rua Wall*
Politics is back on the streets of Europe, that much is clear. The PIGS are striking back. Portugal, Ireland Greece and Spain. Except that’s not quite right. Today I would like to address the failure of Irish radicalism and contrast that with Greece and Tunisia, in order to begin to pull out a number of important lessons of the current wave of indignation and fury. I will suggest that when the media focus on anger and indignation they miss some of the most significant factors involved. I want to suggest that anger is only the beginning.
For the last twenty years, in Ireland, there has been a concerted effort to render politics as that which happens after and in the wake of the economy. Ireland fitted itself into a neo-liberal globe as the subjugated outpost of post-politics: the Irish economic miracle or the Celtic tiger were placed at the heart of the political sphere. The neo-liberal hegemony and its attendant withdrawal of the political was interiorised by vast swathes of the populace. Read the rest of this entry »
I have never been more desperate to explain and more hopeful for your understanding of any single fact than this: The protests in Greece concern all of you directly.
What is going on in Athens at the moment is resistance against an invasion; an invasion as brutal as that against Poland in 1939. The invading army wears suits instead of uniforms and holds laptops instead of guns, but make no mistake – the attack on our sovereignty is as violent and thorough. Private wealth interests are dictating policy to a sovereign nation, which is expressly and directly against its national interest. Ignore it at your peril. Say to yourselves, if you wish, that perhaps it will stop there. That perhaps the bailiffs will not go after the Portugal and Ireland next. And then Spain and the UK. But it is already beginning to happen. This is why you cannot afford to ignore these events.
The powers that be have suggested that there is plenty to sell. Josef Schlarmann, a senior member of Angela Merkel’s party, recently made the helpful suggestion that we should sell some of our islands to private buyers in order to pay the interest on these loans, which have been forced on us to stabilise financial institutions and a failed currency experiment. (Of course, it is not a coincidence that recent studies have shown immense reserves of natural gas under the Aegean sea). Read the rest of this entry »
By Panagiotis Sotiris*
The only way to describe recent developments is Greece is to refer to a peaceful popular insurrection. The mass gatherings at city squares at the centres of all major Greek cities continue to gather momentum. On Sunday 5 June, Athens and most Greek cities experienced some of the biggest mass rallies in recent history. Hundreds of thousands of protesters in Constitution square in Athens, tens of thousands in Thessaloniki and many more thousands in most Greek cities. It is a unique experience of social mobilization and an original form of popular protest that combines the mass rally with a democratic process of discussion through mass popular assemblies. Read the rest of this entry »