Solidarity

I wish I was in Greece right now, in the streets, fighting with the rest of the population for the return of democracy. I can’t, because the moment I entered the country I would be drafted by the military, but I desperately wish that I could be there. You see, normally I’m quite risk-averse, at least physically. I’m a wimp. I hate violence. I have a life to live, a wife that I love and a cat that depends on me, so I’m not particularly entranced by the idea of being beaten, arrested or even murdered by the Greek police.

But look at where we’ve ended up. Greece is falling apart. Homeless people are dying in the streets, wages are so low that it’s impossible to survive, taxes for the poor are being raised while the rich don’t need to pay, the country’s natural resources are up for grabs even if its biodiversity is severely harmed in the process, the police are cooperating with neonazis, dissenters are being rounded up “preemptively” – and the country is ruled by an EU/IMF-appointed unelected and unconstitutional government that includes an openly fascist party. Yes, the EU, which supposedly prides itself for its anti-racism, made sure that a party of Hitler sympathizers and Holocaust deniers got its hands of real political power. And there is no election is sight.

I’m not going to repost all the details of what’s wrong with the media’s coverage here. In short: no, the Greeks are not lazy racist sterotypes. Greece is a poor country in which people work much harder than in, say, Germany, and reap very few benefits. The state sector is not disproportionately huge, people do not retire at 50 (as a matter of fact, the average retirement age was already much higher than that of Germany or France years ago), and the supposed “support” Greece is getting doesn’t go to the people. It goes straight back to the German and French banks that are running this whole show.

(Oh, and the problem isn’t tax evasion, either. Especially not the tax evasion of those pesky Greek public workers. Why? Because they cannot evade taxes. Taxes are subtracted from wages before they even get them. Not that they get wages these days – many people have been working without getting paid at all for months now. Corporations do evade taxes of course – when they even need to pay them at all. This is not a uniquely Greek phenomenon, and none of the legislation proposed by the EU or the IMF is intended to change that.)

It drives me mad that I can’t be there, that I can’t add my voice to those saying enough. But that doesn’t mean that I will not do what I can to participate in this struggle. It’s a worldwide struggle, after all, a struggle for human decency. Without international solidarity, that struggle is meaningless. Without songs and stories, we may become demotivated. I will do what little I can with words and images to keep values like democracy and equality alive. I’ll fight where I can fight, speak where I can speak.

Think about what you can do. There’s always something.

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4 Comments

  1. James Patton

     /  February 13, 2012

    The more I hear about this, the angrier I become. Despite all the ridiculous stereotypes – “Greeks are lazy, it’s their own fault” – it becomes more and more clear that the Greek people were simply unfortunate in that their economy was run by a bunch of crooks. Which is what happened here in the UK, of course, except we were lucky enough to have our economy just about pull through (though it’s still shaking a bit).

    I’m not sure what I can do, though. The moment someone suggests an alternative to this stagnating capitalist/consumerist miasma we’ve fallen into I’ll be on their bandwagon cheering for them. But nobody seems to have done that. I’m waiting for them, but I just don’t know how much I can do on my own. :s

  2. There are people out there fighting against this system, fighting for socialism, fighting for direct democracy. It’s not easy or perfect, but you can be part of that struggle. Everyone can be.

    Let me say, though, that it’s not really about Greek politicians being crooks. This isn’t happening because someone didn’t follow the rules, but because of a concerted international effort to change the way society works, to destroy what little equality is left and create a system where the vast majority is ultra-poor and unable to resist the exploitation of the 1%. Greece is just one of the first countries to be hit by that, an easy target because of its size, poverty and location. That Greeks are seen as dark-skinned lazy foreigners by many Europeans just helps.

  3. Warning: The following words come from a numskull Greek mechanical engineer who gets his kicks by coding on Atari platforms in his spare time:

    There’s lots of angles to what we Greeks are going through at the moment (corrupt people, corrupt government, overblown public sector etc etc etc), but I think that the main thing to take into consideration here is that we’re going through everything because we again went out and admitted everything ourselves instead of sweeping under the carpet. Oh, and that we were first about it too. Never mind Italy admitting they owe about 100 times (iirc) what Greece is owing, nooooo, it’s those pesky Greeks’ fault, they should be punished! So onward with the good and just knights of Europe and their banks and their mechanisms of supports and their measures to the evil Greek!

    (decided to be short’n’sweet here, otherwise I’d be up all night ranting :))

  4. Mark my words, the situation in Greece is a microcosm for Europe as a whole. Eventually it will hit Spain and Italy and then spread to the so called “stable” economies of Germany, France and the UK.

    Europeans will have to take a long hard look at their collective economic future and decide if the ethos of infinite economic growth is sustainable or even desirable anymore.