Monday, December 22, 2008

As Molly puts this blog to bed the developments in Greece do not look at all good, as the following stories will illustrate. First, and worst of all, the workers occupying the headquarters of the General Confederation of Greek Workers in Athens have quit their occupation. If this is a signal of anything it is a signal that their initiative wasn't taken up by a large section of the Greek working class. It was actually probably opposed by a majority, some of them quite vociferously. This is a clear sign that it is unlikely that the rebellion will spread beyond its youth base. If this doesn't happen the revolt is doomed in the end.

Meanwhile the Greek government feels either confident enough (or perhaps desperate enough ?) to have revoked the right of asylum on University premises. Whether they are willing to risk serious bloodshed and perhaps many deaths by actually carrying out their threats to invade University grounds has yet to be seen. If not, if they have played their cards correctly, the occupations will peter out as predicted over the Christmas holidays. Not that this won't leave them with considerable political discredit, but that is for the future. In the tense atmosphere surrounding the present events they managed to get their budget passed, opposed by a coalition of Socialists, Communists and the far-right Popular Orthodox party (LAOS). The leftist Syriza Party (Coalition of the Radical Left) abstained, but they had more than enough to speak about, defending themselves from the other "leftist" parties. PASOK and the KKE spend almost as much time attacking attacking Syriza for presumably "being soft on the rioters" as they did talking about the budget.

Presently, according to public opinion polls, almost 90% of Greeks "feel the country is going in the wrong direction". The main beneficiaries of this mood have been the socialists, and the main losers the conservative New Democracy government. Polls give PASOK 38.5% support, the ND 32.5%, Syriza 12%, the Communists 8% and the LAOS 4%. Molly has to admit that she especially pleased by the fact that the leftist party is more popular than the communists. Both the socialists and the communists have become less strident in their calls for new elections, the socialists probably because they see no way to go up up as the riots and the economic crisis drag on, the communists because they fear plunging even further into irrelevancy.

Without at least the passive acquiescence of the leftist parties the insurgency in the streets has a snowball's chance in Hell of actually toppling the government, let alone achieving any other vaguely defined goals. In the end the most likely major beneficiaries of the events will be the Syriza Party as they position themselves, in legend at least, as the heirs of the inchoate sentiment against the police and the state. As to the anarchists, all that Molly can say is that these happenings have shown in crystal clarity the need for a positive vision beyond the romance of rebellion. It's a old rhetorical canard that "revolutions that go half way dig their own graves". This should perhaps be updated to say that "revolutions that go 2% of the way and haven't the foggiest clue as to what to do next will get only a light sprinkling of dust rather than a decent grave".

But enough of editorializing. Here's more news from Greece. First from Athens Indymedia...
Emergency Communique from the Occupation of the Polytechnic University in Athens:
There is increasing talk that the occupation of the Polytechnic will be stormed by the police. In sight of this, the occupation's assembly issued an emergency communique.
On the evening of Saturday December 20, and after the clashes in the area of the Polytechnic (one of the tens of massive clashes of demonstrators and police which followed the murder of 15 year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos), a flood of rumors started to circulate around the area of the occupation of the NTUA [Polytechnic].
Continuous information about an invasion of the police into the space of the occupied Polytechnic University, in combination with the strategic movements of the riot police during the time of the clashes, foretold the obvious. The police plan to rush the occupation. Doing an end run around the dean's council [who would ordinarily have to approve suspension of asylum that prohibits police from entering universities], and offering the "earth and water" of the Polytechnic to the prosecutor, the police force, and the ministry of the interior, they sent the message indirectly but clearly, with threats and intimidation, that we have only "a few hours" left.
We answer them that we have as much time left as the part of society that has risen up and doesn't accept ultimatums, decides. That, for all of those who participated and participate now and will continue to do so in revolutionary practices, they had best respect them and fear them. These very men, these very women, these thousands of people who have risen up, the students, the workers, the jobless, the immigrants, our comrades, we call on them all to keep unceasing vigilant watch in the area of the Polytechnic, in view of the plotted invasion.
We call everyone to a mass presence at the occupation of the Polytechnic.
We call you to an open general assembly today, Sunday, December 21, at 9 p.m.
We call you to a concert for solidarity and financial support for our imprisoned comrades in the uprising, at 6 p.m. in the area of the occupied Polytechnic University.
We will have the last word!
These days and nights are for Alexis!
Polytechnic Occupation, 12/21/08
Here also from the Athens Indymedia is a further post about the lifting of the right of asylum, how it was done and what it means.
Pushing for lifting of asylum (translation):
Saturday night the prosecutor decided unilaterally to lift the asylum that prevents the police from entering university grounds. Only the disagreement of the provost board prevented a police invasion.
Acting on his own authority, the prosecutor on duty on Saturday evening, December 21, decided to lift the asylum [that normally applies to university grounds and prevents the entry of police onto the campus] for the National Polytechnic University of Athens, but in the end the police did not intervene, after the disagreement of the provost's advisory board.
Police intervention in the university schools under occupation in the coming days, with the argument that they are being used as staging areas for disturbances, by means of a judicial decision and not an academic one, is now an open possibility.
The occupations in the central universities are expected to continue through the holidays, while the schools close tomorrow for Christmas vacation and the students bid farewell with a rally at midday on Tuesday in Athens, and they have set a date for a new rally on January 9th, the anniversary of the murder of Nikos Teboneras (murdered during the student uprisings in 1990-91). In their company will be teachers from all grades, since the unions representing school teachers and university professors decided the day before yesterday to participate in the rally and to act in common with the students, while they are also discussing the possibility of a strike.
Telephone call from the Greek police force about intervention
As the "News" [mainstream Greek daily newspaper] learned, the provost and vice-provost of the NTUA, Mr. K. Moutzouris and Mr. G. Spathis, this past Saturday evening during the episodes in the region around the university, received a phone call from the police force, which informed them a plan was in the works for intervention, since the prosecutor on duty decided that inside the building there were felonies being carried out, such as the construction of explosives. The law gives to police the right to intervene with an order from the prosecutor, even without a decision to lift asylum from university officials, when it is determined that felonies are being committed.
"Dangerous for victims"
The provost authorities of the university disagreed with this decision. "I believe that the clearing of the Polytechnic [of the occupying students] must happen with dialogue and not police intervention. I hope that the occupation will have ended peacefully before the holidays," Mr. Moutzouris told the "News". "The lifting of university asylum is a political decision and if they want, let them make it, as they have the right to do even without our consent. We don't bring up such an issue because there is the danger of having victims, and also because there hasn't been serious damage to the university and the issue of occupations is more general", added Mr. Spathis.
Under occupation are about 160 schools in universities and technical institutes across the country, with basic centers the Law School, the Economic University and the Polytechnic University in Athens, and the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki.
Finally, from the Occupied London Blog, further news about recent events, including news that the school occupations are likely to be ended as well.
Polytechnic raid scenario weakens; police resort to dictatorship-style surveillance; shots against riot police van; student demo set to start:
UPDATE, 19:41 Mainstream media now report that the riot police van in Goudi received 7 shots, not 2. A group calling itself “Popular Action” (Λαϊκή Δράση) has claimed responsibility for the attack. The student demonstration in central Athens ended an hour ago. There was a very good turnover and the demo was relatively peaceful; one police car was flipped over.

After a quiet night at the Athens Polytechnic last night, mainstream media (which, more often than not, prepare the ground for police operations) are now reporting that a police raid of the polytechnic is unlikely. The people occupying the building have successfully defended their right to decide themselves when to leave - this will happen at today’s open assembly (6pm).

Reports are coming in, both on Indymedia and the occupations’ open assemblies, that the police have been approaching taxi drivers asking them to pass on information about their passengers (just like they would do during the 1967-1974 dictatorship). In one instance a woman who hailed a cab outside the occupied Economics University and asked to be taken to a northern suburb of Athens was driven straight to the police headquarters. Luckily she realised what was going on a block away from the police building and managed to jump out of the taxi’s window and escape, chased both by the taxi driver and the police.

Meanwhile, mainstream media also report a riot police van was shot at twice at 05:50 am in the Goudi suburb of Athens, next to the university campus in Zografou; one bullet hit the van’s tyre and the other hit the engine.

The last student demonstration for this year is set to start in a few minutes. There has already been a call for a fresh student demo on January 9th and it is expected that demonstrations will continue apace in the new year.

It is also expected that the anarchist occupations of the three universities (Economics, Polytechnic and Law school) will all end later this week, as fatigue is seriously kicking in at these unprecedented 17-days long occupations. Actions will, of course, continue - the biggest bet right now is to expand the revolt and unrest in time and people are focusing their plans on this. We should have a better idea of where things will go after this week’s assemblies.

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