Greece – Few Impressions
The following is a short reflection of one part of a visit of different groups in Athens – the visit had been initialised by the cooperation between attac France and colleagues in Athens, but quickly included colleagues from other national attac networks and also other organisations that wanted to express their solidarity with the Greek people and develop fiurther activities against the strangulation policies and the emergence of more authoritarian “governance” processes all over Europe.
Part of the solidarity visit had been a meeting in the Parliament, neighbouring the Syntagma square – that day (the 29th of February) the venue of a mass demonstration against the strangulation policy pursued by the quadriga: EU, IMF, WB and the national government in Greece. Part of the solidarity delegation met representatives of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA). And as much as entering the building had been obviously a matter of crossing borders – the ordinary security checks of such buildings bloated by the additional platoon – the content of the talk can be subsumed under that topic too: the crossing of borders, four of them will be briefly mentioned in the following. – Looking at the talk in the office of the Parliament in the context of the overall visit, it is probably fair to say that they had been issues characterising the discussion also with other groups.
First, as obvious as it is to say that the population is upset and full of desperation and change-oriented unrest, it is obvious that this is only part of the overall story. On the other hand it is also more than clear that for many desperation is a matter of negative feelings, of resignation and also of distraction. This had been put forward during the presentations and discussion. An important point is in this context that the provision of incomplete and moreover wrong information can easily result in the wrong conclusions. At stake is in particular the playing-off the EU-member states against each other, resulting in animosities between nations and thus concealing that that the situation is about genuinely social conflicts. Provision of appropriate information is therefore a decisive aspect of any strategy forward. Such visit seems to be important, initialising visits in other countries had been also considered to be useful and importantly, the general problems of representative democracy had been another time coming to the fore.
This leads to the second boarder which urgently needs to be crossed and had been discussed during the meeting: the border between the different parties. Unfortunately there is currently no strong and united opposition in the country. The parliamentarian left is split into four different groups – and it is at this stage apparently unlikely that a united left can emerge from here. The proposal of an at least temporary coalition had been tabled but up to now it had not been taken up positively. – Part of the problem is the fundamental split between “reformist” and “revolutionist”, “fundamentalist” and “realist” strategies.
A third border springs to the fore, namely the concern with the fact that the Greek question is surely a European question and to the same extent the EUropean question is actually a global one. At stake is not least a reordering of global relationships and positions. The Lisbon2000-strategic orientation on developing EUrope as a most competitive region means also that this envisaged position of Europe within the centre of even as centre of the world system requires also determining a new role of those countries of the EU-periphery as part of the envisaged world-centre EU. In this light it may well be that Greece is depending on support of the EU – but such support has to be seen in this light: it is only given in order to pursue the European strategy on the way towards global competiveness. In this context another issue came up – though more by accident rather than having been directly issued: the “fast-tracking of the area of the former airport at Ellinikon and the seafront area of Agios Kosmas into concrete”. This is taken from a flyer which had been distributed – making aware of a project with huge negative effects for the environment and further development of the area. This is in the present context of importance as it shows that the austerity policy is going beyond cutbacks and further redistribution of wealth according to the Matthew principle. Instead of truly supporting development in Greece the consequence is one strangulation package after another.
This means – coming to the fourth border that had been discussed – that in the present situation it is by no means clear if the left should orient towards remaining in the Eurozone or if opting out would be a better option. In any case, the actually important part is to orient on strengthening a national economy based on existing national potentials. Tourism had been mentioned. Another point is that many products are imported (e.g. Olives) although production in Greece could sufficiently answer the demand. In this context one of the dangers is surely that politics turns into a nationalist orientation. However, such possibility is by no means the only perspective.
And as so often, the end can be seen as beginning – unfortunately questions could be raised but only to the extent that we knew at the end where to move forward with the future debate. And the core of this is to think about alternative ways of production – and the production of global alternatives. As much as the current crisis is a crisis of the finance economy and it’s most focused outbreak in Greece, the solution has to be found in a move towards a new model of global production. – Greece, currently a laboratory for the defining of post-liberalism has to be used by the progressive forces as laboratory in the search for an alternative mode of production.