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An employee of the burnt bank speaks out on yesterday’s tragic deaths in Athens

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Events in Greece are currently very tumultuous. After the general strike and riots all around the country in recent days, capitalism is seriously threatened. Below is an article from the blog Occupied London, one of the best English language websites on what's happening in Greece, on the deaths of three bank workers on the day of the general strike. More articles: Names of the dead announced; bank workers strike today in memory | Protest in front of the parliament comes under attack as austerity package is voted in | Anarchist international call in Greece

Yesterday’s tragic deaths in Athens leave little space for comments – we are all very shocked and deeply saddened by the events. To those (on the “Occupied London” blog even) who speculate that the deaths might have been caused purposefully by anarchists, we can only reply the following: we do not take to the streets, we do not risk our freedom and our lives confronting the greek police in order to kill other people. Anarchists are not murderers, and no brainwashing attempted by Greek PM Papandreou, the national or the international media should convince anyone otherwise.

That being said, and with developments still running frantically, we want to publish a rough translation of a statement by an employee of Marfin Bank – the bank whose branch was set alight in Athens today, where the three employees found a tragic death.

Read the letter, translate it, spread it around to your networks; grassroots counter-information has a crucial role to play at a moment when the greek state and corporate media are leashing out on the anarchist movement over here in Greece.

I feel an obligation toward my co-workers who have so unjustly died today to speak out and to say some objective truths. I am sending this message to all media outlets. Anyone who still bares some consciousness should publish it. The rest can continue to play the government’s game.

The fire brigade had never issued an operating license to the building in question. The agreement for it to operate was under the table, as it practically happens with all businesses and companies in Greece.

The building in question has no fire safety mechanisms in place, neither planned nor installed ones – that is, it has no ceiling sprinklers, fire exits or fire hoses. There are only some portable fire extinguishers which, of course, cannot help in dealing with extensive fire in a building that is built with long-outdated security standards.

No branch of Marfin bank has had any member of staff trained in dealing with fire, not even in the use of the few fire extinguishers. The management also uses the high costs of such training as a pretext and will not take even the most basic measures to protect its staff.

There has never been a single evacuation exercise in any building by staff members, nor have there been any training sessions by the fire-brigade, to give instructions for situations like this. The only training sessions that have taken place at Marfin Bank concern terrorist action scenarios and specifically planning the escape of the banks’ “big heads” from their offices in such a situation.

The building in question had no special accommodation for the case of fire, even though its construction is very sensitive under such circumstances and even though it was filled with materials from floor to ceiling. Materials which are very inflammable, such as paper, plastics, wires, furniture. The building is objectively unsuitable for use as a bank due to its construction.

No member of security has any knowledge of first aid or fire extinguishing, even though they are every time practically charged with securing the building. The bank employees have to turn into firemen or security staff according to the appetite of Mr Vgenopoulos [owner of Marfin Bank].

The management of the bank strictly bared the employees from leaving today, even though they had persistently asked so themselves from very early this morning – while they also forced the employees to lock up the doors and repeatedly confirmed that the building remained locked up throughout the day, over the phone. They even blocked off their internet access so as to prevent the employees from communicating with the outside world.

For many days now there has been some complete terrorisation of the bank’s employees in regard to the mobilisations of these days, with the verbal “offer”: you either work, or you get fired.

The two undercover police who are dispatched at the branch in question for robbery prevention did not show up today, even though the bank’s management had verbally promised to the employees that they would be there.

At last, gentlemen, make your self-criticism and stop wandering around pretending to be shocked. You are responsible for what happened today and in any rightful state (like the ones you like to use from time to time as leading examples on your TV shows) you would have already been arrested for the above actions. My co-workers lost their lives today by malice: the malice of Marfin Bank and Mr. Vgenopoulos personally who explicitly stated that whoever didin’t come to work today [May 5th, a day of a general strike!] should not bother showing up for work tomorrow [as they would get fired].

- An employee of Marfin Bank [greek original]

http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/

Comments

Statement From Occupied

Statement From Occupied London Blog:

What do we honestly have to say about Wednesday’s events?

What do the events of Wednesday (5/5) honestly mean for the anarchist/anti-authoritarian movement? How do we stand in the face of the deaths of these three people – regardless of who caused them? Where do we stand as humans and as people in struggle? Us, who do not accept that there are such things as “isolated incidents” (of police or state brutality) and who point the finger, on a daily basis, at the violence exercised by the state and the capitalist system. Us, who have the courage to call things by their name; us who expose those who torture migrants in police stations or those who play around with our lives from inside glamorous offices and TV studios. So, what do we have to say now?

We could hide behind the statement issued by the Union of Bank Workers (OTOE) or the accusations by employees of the bank branch; or we could keep it at the fact that the deceased had been forced to stay in a building with no fire protection – and locked up, even. We could keep it at what a scum-bag is Vgenopoulos, the owner of the bank; or at how this tragic incident will be used to leash out some unprecedented repression. Whoever (dared to) pass through Exarcheia on Wednesday night already has a clear picture of this. But this is not where the issue lies.

The issue is for us to see what share of the responsibilities falls on us, on all of us. We are all jointly responsible. Yes, we are right to fight with all our powers against the unjust measures imposed upon us; we are right to dedicate all our strength and our creativity toward a better world. But as political beings, we are equally responsible for every single one of our political choices, for the means we have impropriated and for our silence every time that we did not admit to our weaknesses and our mistakes. Us, who do not suck up to the people in order to gain in votes, us who have no interest in exploiting anyone, have the capacity, under these tragic circumstances, to be honest with ourselves and with those around us.

What the greek anarchist movement is experiencing at the moment is some total numbness. Because there are pressurising conditions for some tough self-criticism that is going to hurt. Beyond the horror of the fact that people have died who were on “our side”, the side of the workers – workers under extremely difficult conditions who would have quite possibly chosen to march by our side if things were different in their workplace – beyond this, were are hereby also confronted with demonstrator/s who put the lives of people in danger. Even if (and this goes without question) there was no intention to kill, this is a matter of essence that can hold much discussion – some discussion regarding the aims that we set and the means that we chose.

The incident did not happen at night, at some sabotage action. It happened during the largest demonstration in contemporary greek history. And here is where a series of painful questions emerge: Overall, in a demonstration of 150-200,000, unprecedented in the last few years, is there really a need for some “upgraded” violence? When you see thousands shouting “burn, burn Parliament” and swear at the cops, does another burnt bank really have anything more to offer to the movement?

When the movement itself turns massive – say like in December 2008 – what can an action offer, if this action exceeds the limits of what a society can take (at least at a present moment), or if this action puts human lives at danger?

When we take to the streets we are one with the people around us; we are next to them, by their side, with them – this is, at the end of the day, why we work our arses off writing texts and posters – and our own clauses are a single parameter in the many that converge. The time has come for us to talk frankly about violence and to critically examine a specific culture of violence that has been developing in Greece in the past few years. Our movement has not been strengthened because of the dynamic means it sometimes uses but rather, because of its political articulation. December 2008 did not turn historical only because thousands picked up and threw stones and molotovs, but mainly because of its political and social characteristics – and its rich legacies at this level. Of course we respond to the violence exercised upon us, and yet we are called in turn to talk about our political choices as well as the means we have impropriated, recognising our -and their – limits.

When we speak of freedom, it means that at every single moment we doubt what yesterday we took for granted. That we dare to go all the way and, avoiding some cliché political wordings, to look at things straight into the eye, as they are. It is clear that since we do not consider violence to be an end to itself, we should not allow it to cast shadows to the political dimension of our actions. We are neither murderers nor saints. We are part of a social movement, with our weaknesses and our mistakes. Today, instead of feeling stronger after such an enormous demonstration we feel numb, to say the least. This in itself speaks volumes. We must turn this tragic experience into soul-searching and inspire one another since at the end of the day, we all act based on our consciousness. And the cultivation of such a collective consciousness is what is at stake

As the statement points out above, we can't just sit back and blame the bosses for this one. It takes more than a molotov cocktail in a bank to bring about revolutionary change. I have a feeling this will hurt the Greek movement more than they realise.

Jared

So are you blaming everyone

So are you blaming everyone of the Workers who demonstrated on this one tragic event, and suggesting that there should be no more demonstrations? Kind of sounds like it and sounds pretty liberal..Capitalism kills thousands of people every day and it's not going to stop..the bosses in the Bank threatened their staff with the sack if they didn't go to work in that Bank on that day..and really you choose to blame all the demonstrators for this..maybe it would have been more sensible if they stayed home and wrote letters to editor eh? Of course it takes more than a molotov in a bank..and theres been a hell of a lot more than that happening over there..I think the sentiment from the occupied London Blog sound like feel-good new-age sap. Human lifes are at danger every day in this world, people go hungry and die from this every day. Support and Solidarity with those in Struggle in Greece. Wake Up!

You've just performed the

You've just performed the most fantastic logical gymnastics.

It was the person who threw the molotov cocktail that killed those people. Not the Bank. Not "the system".

Maybe it was the egg that killed the chicken?

Perhaps we are guilty of emotional rage and anger. Yes, the law must be abided strictly, and always we should walk carefully around the corner, because me may otherwise bump into some weak person that may fall backwards and have a heart-attack?!

Yeah, throwing molotov cocktails around is not a sound way to go.

Anyway - property and wellbeing of others must be respected at all times.

If an angry police officer punches me in the face while handcuffed I will act with regard for his well being and turn the other cheek.

Also I believe we should not rock the boat at all, because so many rely on the system as it is, they will be put in some kind of peril.

Fear and respect the law!

If you do not get a permit to have a revolution - go home and watch TV. That is what respectful life in a democracy as ours requires of us as responsible citizens, does it not?????????????????

Comfortably numb, comfortably numb, comfortably numb!

Radical = idiot

You need to be careful with that sarcasm, Radical. Someone may think you're being funny.

But, you weren't. You're really being callous and cruel. The sort of morality that you espouse leads to total chaos. Don't you see that?

We live in a society of laws. OK, the police may let themselves down from time to time. I won't deny that. And some employers may treat their workers unfairly. And some banks may be greedy. And some people in public office may be corrupt. But you cannot equate bad individuals with the "system". It may not be perfect all the time, but our society lets the people choose their leaders, has constitutional checks on the army, police, and laws to ensure a fair judicial process. The press is free to express opinions critical of government. If someone wrongs me, I have a decent chance of getting justice (and that's not because I'm rich). And, for good measure, we get social welfare, education for everyone, and healthcare too.

The people aren't "comfortably numb". That's a Pink Floyd song. Most people are content because, for the most part, our government is as good as it gets.

 

chanel

You are an angry police officer punches me in the face while handcuffed I will act with regard for his well being and turn the other cheek. !

 

(No subject)

How constructive...

How constructive...another molotov cocktail. Let's hope that nobody was killed needlessly and that the police officer, who is only doing his job and may have a family to support, wasn't badly injured by this senseless act of violence.

You anarchists are pathetic. Who do you think you are? Do you really believe that the economic and political problems in Greece will be solved by this kind of pointless, narcissitic behaviour?

Cops in Greece are openly

Cops in Greece are openly fascist. They deserve no sympathy.

Bitchin and Radical: did you

Bitchin and Radical: did you even read the Occupied Blog comment? I quote directly from that to refresh your memories:

The incident did not happen at night, at some sabotage action. It happened during the largest demonstration in contemporary greek history. And here is where a series of painful questions emerge: Overall, in a demonstration of 150-200,000, unprecedented in the last few years, is there really a need for some “upgraded” violence? When you see thousands shouting “burn, burn Parliament” and swear at the cops, does another burnt bank really have anything more to offer to the movement?

Nowhere is there the suggestion to go home and watch TV, or to respect private property! What it's suggesting is some critical reflection on what happened, and how effective the act of burning banks really is. It's not defending the banking system or capitalism, nor is it blaming the entire demonstrators: it's pointing out the obvious flaws of 'smash shit and fight' insurrectionist anarchism of which a minority of anarchists (if you can call them that) obviously get off on. 

If an angry police officer punches me in the face while handcuffed I will act with regard for his well being and turn the other cheek.

Also I believe we should not rock the boat at all, because so many rely on the system as it is, they will be put in some kind of peril.

This is just beyond stupid. Stop building strawmen arguments.

From anarchistblackcat.org:

Anyway, about the news for the three deaths in the fire at this bank, not only me, but the group I am in (MACG) and also other anarchists from my country of origin think that should make the movement sit up & take notice. The macho militarism by certain groups within anarchist movement in Greece, which sees the revolution as being a series of ever-larger clashes with the police, is a dead end and will only divide the working class.
We gain our strength from withdrawing our labour. The working class approach to the use of force is to set up picket lines in industrially significant locations (including, but not only, struck workplaces) and then use reasonable force to defend them when the bosses or the State attempt to break them up with force. Molotov cocktails are the work of people who have no confidence in the working class and who seek to substitute themselves for it.

Jared

How did previous revolutions come about and actually succeeded?

If any of you would like to learn a bit about how the revolution happened in Russia, in Cuba, in Mainland China, in the USA (1776), in France and many other countries - OPEN YOUR HISTORY BOOKS and study how organised revolutionaries brought about change!

There has been no revolution that succeeded by simply having people protest, rise up, have sit-ins and whatever.

This does not mean that violence is necessary - and it may well not be the answer.

But honestly, who does sincerely believe that the existing interest groups that really have a GRIP ON POWER and CONTROL through their financial strength - and the power to dictate who gets a job and livelihood and who does not, who can influence who can afford a lawyer to defend her- and himself against trumped up or real charges - or not, who can actually get into positions to bring about change from within - without having to compromise to the oligopolies in power, will ever let go of their control???

Only organised resistance and push for change will be the only formidable force that can bring about change.

People can walk the streets and protest and shout as much as they like, they will never get a proper voice through the media, they will never get more power than vote between the lesser and worse evil every so many years, all that will not really change much at all.

The time for change could be coming sooner than some believe. It will only happen once the world wide capitalist network with its ruthless finance companies, derivative traders, speculators, the super large banks, the multinationals dependent on their funds and the whole, intertwined web of dependency they have woven around the world, keeping all governments and peoples in their servitude, once that will COLLAPSE.

Then we will have a kind of chaos that will have been unprecedented. It will be worse than the so-called Great Depression, where many could still resort to some basic practical survival skills and last savings they may have had. With the whole world financial and economic system being more inter-dependent than anything comparable before, so volatile and sensitive towards the slightest upheaval in one part of the world, everything being computerised, mechanised and thus controlled, the collapse of such a system will mean hundreds of millions suddenly being without money, food, transport, energy and so forth.

That is where a prepared and ORGANISED new movement can step in and take over control over the mess that will have been left behind. I believe that all those that "dream" of some kind of revolution need to prepare for this and start organising themselves and followers effectively and resolutely now. Otherwise you will never get anywhere.

Violence will only bring about a stiff reaction and conditions like civil war. That would lead to ulitmate disaster and in the form of to be expected dictatorship to an even worse system than we have now.

Radical, I'm the first to

Radical, I'm the first to agree that simple protest is inneffective and that violence will be a necessary part of the coming revolution (see my article on the failure of non-violence here, or the Aims and Principles of Beyond Resistance here). But burning down one bank is the complete opposite to the organised confrontation needed to bring about revolutionary change. What's needed is STRATEGY: it would have made more sense to support those bankers in occupying and controlling their own workplaces through pushing forward the general strike called, and then defending those gains (with violence and molotov cocktails if necessary).

Maybe you need to revisit those history books mate. Take Spain: in the 30's there were various failed attempts at revolution through organised attacks on the symbols of power (police stations, banks etc etc), but ultimately the revolutionary success came through a number of factors, the general strike, withdrawal of labour and then the occupation and management of the workplace being the main one.  

That is where a prepared and ORGANISED new movement can step in and take over control over the mess that will have been left behind. 

Black Blocs throwing molotovs is not an orgainsed movement though, surely you see the difference between that kind of action and a mass, self-managed working class movement we anarchist communists argue for? 

Only organised resistance and push for change will be the only formidable force that can bring about change.

People can walk the streets and protest and shout as much as they like, they will never get a proper voice through the media, they will never get more power than vote between the lesser and worse evil every so many years, all that will not really change much at all.

I totally agree. But Black Blocs or insurrectionary action isn't the organised resistance we need. I think more value would be had in anarcho-syndicalist styled networks, self-managed struggles involving all of those effected that practice direct action and empowers EVERYONE involved, not just an elitist few wearing black and yellow slogans.

 

Jared

A video of protesters

A video of protesters attacking Mr Vgenopoulos, the boss of Marfin Bank, visiting the burned bank, calling him a murderer can be seen here http://www.zougla.gr/page.ashx?pid=2&aid=131644&cid=4

THANKS FOR THE PREACHY AND

THANKS FOR THE PREACHY AND POSITIONAL DEBATE JARED...WOW THATS SUPER, YOU HAVE MADE ME SEE THE LIGHT AND HOW RIGHT YOU ARE (AS ALWAYS). THERE IS NEVER A TIME OR A PLACE FOR VIOLENCE NO MATTER WHAT..I AM CLEARLY AN IGNORANT FOOL, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. FROM NOW ON I WILL ROLL OVER AND LICK BALLS.

http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2010/05/08/284-anarchy-is-str

 

probably best if people read all of this for themselves, because i don't think Occupied London blog was tut tutting and waggin fingers at the Greek Workers like Jared is...(link in subject...)

http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/

to get a full idea of their position read a few articles...

There is never a place for

There is never a place for violence. You are an ignorant fool (among many other things)

"There is never a place for

"There is never a place for violence."

 

Good luck with that...

When the crack down comes once the people rise

When the crack down comes once the people rise I can already visualise "Leonites" and others apply for the jobs that will be the few left to go for. These jobs will be to work as security staff (possibly armed with batons or worse) that will hold the starving masses at bay, when they congregate outside the mansions of the wealthy in for instance "gated communities". They will "drum sense" into the ones stepping out of line of the ones having to wait for meagre food handouts. They will help ban and suppress strikes, protests and so forth, that will be prohibited in order to "secure the peace". Such jobs were taken up by jews in the ghetto of Warsaw that ended up betraying their own people. That is how it works! Stand up for the system we have and tow the line when the new order of suppression will take over - or try at least - after the world market collapse. We will see!

What happened was a tragic

What happened was a tragic mistake, don’t let this stop you for too long though and never give up your struggle. Love and Anarchy. Solidarity with all those affected, Solidarity with the Greek Workers Struggle.

I am fascinated by the

I am fascinated by the violent revenge fantasies of anarchists. Where does this fantasy come from? We live in the most prosperous society in human history. Government has never been as free. Technology has never been able to achieve so much. Why do you insist on destroying it?   

at I am Leon, are you

at I am Leon, are you completely ignorant to the lifes of most people on the planet outside of your small bubble of privilege?

I think the point is that

I think the point is that burning shit down isn't going to make life better for anyone.

Look at Greece...Anarchists

Look at Greece...Anarchists are protesting about reductions in government spending and welfare entitlements. In other words, people who don't believe in goverment are agitating for their right to receive money from it. Go figure?

we live in a cage. once we

we live in a cage. once we realise this we can't just easily break out of it immediately. first we need to expand the floor of the cage, even defend the limits of the cage when our civil liberties are attacked and our cage is threatened with becoming even smaller.

when emma goldman was asked (paraphrased) "why don't you leave if you don't america" when she was on trial for sedition.  she replied, (paraprashed) "and where might I go?  everywhere workers are in chains."  capital is global in reach and control.  we cannot live outside capitalism even if we are fundamentally opposed to it's way of life. 

against all authority.  against one world capitalism.  another world is possible.  see you on the streets.

Tim Blackheart

"...if you don't LIKE

"...if you don't LIKE america" I meant to say

I think the point is more

I think the point is more about when to use certain tactics. Ultimately in a revolutionary situation the power and privilegde of the ruling class, that is threatened, will be protected with violence by the forces of the state. This means there will be a time of violence whether we like it or not.

The question then becomes whether violence is used as self defense and to defend gains made by the struggling "masses". If the answer is yes, it is because the "masses" have organised to defend as opposed to a revolutionary "vangaurd" minority, fighting on behalf of the majority.

The former has more chance of success as it has wider support, and is part of the wider struggle.

Quote from above:

"The macho militarism by certain groups within anarchist movement in Greece, which sees the revolution as being a series of ever-larger clashes with the police, is a dead end and will only divide the working class.
We gain our strength from withdrawing our labour. The working class approach to the use of force is to set up picket lines in industrially significant locations (including, but not only, struck workplaces) and then use reasonable force to defend them when the bosses or the State attempt to break them up with force. Molotov cocktails are the work of people who have no confidence in the working class and who seek to substitute themselves for it."

The question is more when is violence necessary and in what form, than whether is necessary at all.

You say the issue is about

You say the issue is about "tactics"; but tactics in the pursuit of what?

Ultimately in a revolutionary situation the power and privilegde of the ruling class, that is threatened, will be protected with violence by the forces of the state. This means there will be a time of violence whether we like it or not.

This sounds like some dogma thats been fed to you that you don't understand. Your statement assumes that there is in fact a revolution occurring in Greece. How can you justify that position? Right now, there is social unrest in response to the austerity measures being undertaken by the Greek government. That is to be expected; nobody enjoys their privileges and entitlements being reduced (even though they should have considered whether the state was in a financial position to afford them in the first place). But does that amount to revolution? It doesn't look like it to me.

The question is more when is violence necessary and in what form, than whether is necessary at all.

Indeed, I agree. Violence may be justified in self defence, but the use of force must be proportionate to the threat of harm. The current situation in Greece, however, does not fulfill those criteria. Which means that the actions undertaken by the Greek anarchists is unjustified and illegitimate.

Hi Al,I really don't think it

Hi Al,

I really don't think it should be up to us over here in NZ to make the call about what happens in Athens at the moment. None of us were or are there. Most groups have said that they weren't involved in the fire bombing of the bank, and still are continuing on their struggle and organising in many different ways, they have asked for international support for getting the correct information about what is happening and for people to join them in the struggle in whatever way they can..They have been self critical and are reflecting on what happened, and I don't think this is our role. I think we need to show solidarity and support for them and their struggle at this time because this is what they are asking, they don't need any more crap thrown at them, they are getting enough of that from the "Media" and other right-wing and liberal groups. We understand already that it wasn't an intention to harm any workers in the bank and that the bank had not ensured the safety of its workers at this time when it should have. Was this purposeful? It seems to have been. Should Anarchists over here be wagging fingers at the Greek Anarchists at this time, I don't think so.

 

I don't think anyone is

I don't think anyone is pointing fingers or trying to dictate from afar, just trying to learn from (current) examples. Yes, lets support the moves in Greece which could hopefully lead to social revolution, to the workers and communities fighting oppression and police brutality in the streets, but not without a critical reflection of tactics. Discussion and critique is healthy. Sloganeering isn't.

Jared

"It takes more than a molotov

"It takes more than a molotov cocktail in a bank to bring about revolutionary change." Jared. Sounds like a slogan to me, and it undermines all the real work and struggle that has been happening in Greece by Anarchists and others demonstrating with them at this time.

How does random violence mean

How does random violence mean "real work and struggle"?

Mate, you sound like a broken

Bitchin, you sound like a broken record! No one is dismissing what is happening in Greece right now, whether it be demonstrations or workplace action: just questioning the tactic of firebombing a bank. I'm not sure why this is causing you so much distress. Again, it's a question of tactics: discussing tactics doesn't equate to dismissing the entire situation in Greece.

Jared

 "Bitchin, you sound like a

 "Bitchin, you sound like a broken record! No one is dismissing what is happening in Greece right now, whether it be demonstrations or workplace action": Jared.

You have such a way with blanket statements. If you want to have any real discourse with people you don't start of by accusing them of not reading or understanding the subject..it just doesn't work like that.

 

Helpful discourse usually

Helpful discourse usually involves using real names and knowing who you're talking to. From your comments it looked as if you hadn't read my comments. Such is the internet. If you're in CHCH feel free to come to our monthly discussion nights for dialogue in person, or contact me personally.

Jared

I'm actually on another

I'm actually on another planet at the moment Jared, but I'll see what I can do.

If you're plane has internet,

Well if you're planet has internet, I'd suggest checking out the following threads on Libcom.org. This from a Greek comrade on that thread:

I do not want to exploit my position as a contributor to articles here, but the situation is very serious and no one can keep silent any longer: since December the anarchist scene has been characterised by a mass quantitative increase and a critical qualitative leveling. As a result it is verging on the dangerous limits of what one could call "an unprincipled struggle" where violence has acquired an almost totemic dimension. That is not to say that there are no groups which have engaged critically with the issue of violence in the last year or so, but these efforts have been brushed aside as either too academic or too pacifist or whatever, and marginalised.

The only thing that can save the anarchist scene in the eyes of the much wider social and labour movement in greece is at last some trace of self-criticism. Anarchists should develop a sense of public responsibility and realise the consequences of "playing war" on the backs of others. If the anarchist believe they are the vanguard of society that need give word to no one because they embody some historical necessity, they are no better than the Stalinists in the KKE.

This is also a good comment:

The problem with the attack on the bank wasn't that it was violent (there's nothing wrong with attacks on banks as such) but was that they seem to have fallen into a trap set by the highly political boss of Marfin, a trap which could only have worked because of thepredictability of much of the anti-authoritarian milieu, who reduce revolt to a repetetive series of 'tactics' regardless of the simplest precautions or any attempt to think out different strategies that might be more relevant or innovative.

Jared

real wages have been dropping

real wages have been dropping for 30 years.  the poor and getting poorer.  growth of technology has created fuel, climate, and food crises we may never recover from.  government has never been free.  when the crises bite further it is the poor who will pay the price and freedoms will be clawed back to maintain control.  anarchists are neither violent nor seek revenge.  justice is not revenge.  revolution is not revenge.  revolution is not violent, except in self-defense.  revolution is people taking control over their own lives from the rich who cannot be trusted with public policy over us nor private control over us.  they govern in their own interests and leave us out in the cold.

Imperialism and Capitalism - Commandante Che speaks

Truth never ceases to have its point!

Che

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n92RRrjnx60

Revolution forever!

Revolution forever!

Ask for Rights, Get Acid in the Face

because the riots are justified..(just one link of many which proves this fact.)

Greece: Ask for Rights, Get Acid in the Face.

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=45291

and because there's alot more

and because there's alot more happening in the struggle in Greece than just "a molotov being thrown at a bank"

 

"The big capitalists and the so called "socialist" government have shown its real intentions. It is time now for the working class and youth to fight back! We need an immediate call for a 48 hour general strike! Up to this stage, the public sector union federation, ADEDY, has called a general strike of the public sector workers for 16 March. This is not enough! We must develop a long strike wave, including mass demonstrations and workplace and government building occupations, and also workers’ occupation of the TV and radio stations which are spreading only government propaganda.

We must prepare for a 48-hour general strike. Youth, small farmers, shop keepers and other small business people, must also be involved in mass actions. It is important that students in schools and universities hold occupations and that small farmers blockade national roads. A plan of general strikes - not just one more - is needed to force the Pasok government and reactionary bureaucrats in Brussels to back down.

At the same time, there needs to be all-Europe mobilisation and co-ordination of mass workers’ action, of strikes against EU policies, linked to the struggle of Greek workers. The struggles of Greek workers in Athens, Salonika and other cities, will to a large extent determine the ferocity of attacks on the rest of the working class throughout Europe. If the Greek bosses can get away with it, the bosses throughout the EU will act likewise.

Left parties and trade unions in Greece, and at an all-European level, must take urgent initiatives to mobilise mass workers’ action to resist these attacks. Either the Greek government and big capital will be defeated in the streets of Greece by workers’ action or the working class will face unparalleled attacks. We should not pay for the crisis they caused nor should we pay for the deficits and debts they created!"

Hey bitchin, can I just say

Hey bitchin, can I just say that at no stage have I or others dismissed what is going on in Greece, or argued that the bank incident was all that was happening in Greece. And of course riots are justified: that's not the issue. What I'm interested in is how ONE TACTIC (burning banks) used AMONGST WIDER STRUGGLE (occupations, general strikes, attacks on parliament) has and will effect the ongoing working class movement in Greece — for better or for worse. Again, to point out what I posted earlier:

Overall, in a demonstration of 150-200,000, unprecedented in the last few years, is there really a need for some “upgraded” violence? When you see thousands shouting “burn, burn Parliament” and swear at the cops, does another burnt bank really have anything more to offer to the movement?

It's pretty clear we aren't writing off what's happening in Greece, but trying to learn from tactics used there so in the future these lessons can be put to good use.

Jared

This is classic.You can

This is classic.

You can literally hear the cracking as the fractious left splinters into deeply opposed (but philosophically indistinguishable) factions.

I want to see flags and acronyms, guys. Flags and Acronyms.

Here's mine:

The New Real Aotearoa Revolutionary Army of Revolutionary Anarchists (NRARARA)

NRARARA

Lol.

Are you the Judean People's

"Are you the Judean People's Front?

Fuck off, we're the People's Front of Judea"

 

yes rarara is a good

yes rarara is a good description of your efforts to date lentil. typical bullshit artist knowitall bastion of inaction.

U.R.C.A wants YOU!

The N.G.A.R.A.R.A have diverted from the true course of revolution. It has been hijacked by capitalist agitators and egotistical revisionists!

Anarchism is now under threat! Let us not wait a moment longer! The Ultra Revolutionary Council of Aotearoa (U.R.C.A) has been formed to respond to the the revisionist and counter-revolutionary threat of N.G.A.R.A.R.A. We are the real Anarchists. We will use any means necessary to see the revolution to completion

Join Now! U.R.C.A!!!!

URCA

Hi Bitchin,first I agree with

Hi Bitchin,

first I agree with what you have said here:

"I really don't think it should be up to us over here in NZ to make the call about what happens in Athens at the moment. None of us were or are there. Most groups have said that they weren't involved in the fire bombing of the bank, and still are continuing on their struggle and organising in many different ways, they have asked for international support for getting the correct information about what is happening and for people to join them in the struggle in whatever way they can..They have been self critical and are reflecting on what happened, and I don't think this is our role. I think we need to show solidarity and support for them and their struggle at this time because this is what they are asking, they don't need any more crap thrown at them, they are getting enough of that from the "Media" and other right-wing and liberal groups. We understand already that it wasn't an intention to harm any workers in the bank and that the bank had not ensured the safety of its workers at this time when it should have. Was this purposeful? It seems to have been. Should Anarchists over here be wagging fingers at the Greek Anarchists at this time, I don't think so."

It's difficult to discuss and critique what is happening without it being seen as a lack of solidarity for the workers struggle in Greece. I agree "we need to show solidarity and support for them and their struggle".

I'm not trying to wag or point any fingers. There is a saying that "when you point your finger you have three pointing back at you".

I guess it could be better to have this discussion more broadly at another time?

However what is being discussed by some is a critique of the "dominant insurrectional tendency" which is present in Greece and more generally in the anarchist milieu globally.

There has almost always been tension between anarchist communists who argue for a "mass" self-organised working class, that through tactics of direct action, solidarity and self-organisation in the work place and community, builds dual power ( building the new in the shell of the old ) to a strength capable of destroying the capitalist class and replacing it with a stateless, classless 'anarchist communist' society, and insurrectionists.

Insurrectionist have tended to be anti-organisational, primarily "mass organisations", argueing that it leads to co-option and reformism and instead argue for an insurrectionery approach sparking a more spontanious 'revolution'.

Please correct me if I am wrong, that's briefly my understanding of it.

Anyway I think it's healthy to discuss these tendencies within the anarchist milieu.

This is new on libcom and is really good.

http://libcom.org/news/critical-suffocating-times-tptg-10052010

Quoting from it:

 "...The question of violence has already become central. In the same way we assess the state’s management of violence, we are obliged to assess proletarian violence, too: the movement has to deal with the legitimation of rebellious violence and its content in practical terms. As for the anarchist-antiauthoritarian milieu itself and its dominant insurrectional tendency the tradition of a fetishized, macho glorification of violence has been too long and consistent to remain indifferent now. Violence as an end in itself in all its variations (including armed struggle proper) has been propagated constantly for years now and especially after the December rebellion a certain degree of nihilistic decomposition has become evident (there were some references to it in our text The Rebellious Passage), extending over the milieu itself. In the periphery of this milieu, in its margins, a growing number of very young people has become visible promoting nihilistic limitless violence (dressed up as “December’s nihilism”) and “destruction” even if this also includes variable capital (in the form of scabs, “petit-bourgeois elements”, “law-abiding citizens”). Such a degeneration coming out of the rebellion and its limits as well as out of the crisis itself is clearly evident. Certain condemnations of these behaviours and a self-critique to some extent have already started in the milieu (some anarchist groups have even called the perpetrators “parastatal thugs”) and it is quite possible that organized anarchists and anti-authoritarians (groups or squats) will try to isolate both politically and operationally such tendencies. However, the situation is more complicated and it is surpassing the theoretical and practical (self)critical abilities of this milieu. In hindsight, such tragic incidents with all their consequences might have happened in the December rebellion itself: what prevented them was not only chance (a petrol station that did not explode next to buildings set on fire on Sunday the 7th of December, the fact that the most violent riots took place at night with most buildings empty), but also the creation of a (though limited) proletarian public sphere and of communities of struggle which found their way not only through violence but also through their own content, discourse and other means of communication. It was these pre-existing communities (of students, football hooligans, immigrants, anarchists) that turned into communities of struggle by the subjects of the rebellion themselves that gave to violence a meaningful place. Will there be such communities again now that not only a proletarian minority is involved? Will there be a practical way of self-organization in the workplaces, in the neighborhoods or in the streets to determine the form and the content of the struggle and thus place violence in a liberating perspective?

Uneasy questions in pressing times but we will have to find the answers struggling."

 

In critical and suffocating times - TPTG

In critical and suffocating times

The Ta Paida Tis Galarias (The Children of The Gallery) group report on the recent demonstrations in Athens against austerity measures, including the events leading to the tragic deaths of three bank workers and its implications for the movement of opposition.

 

An important article by an Athens based Anti-authoritarian communist group, who've produced some of the best analysis of the situation in Greece over the last few years. Also well worth reading is their previous piece, There’s only one thing left to settle: our accounts with capital and its state, written earlier in the Greek working class' struggle against the austerity measures, in March of this year.

Solidarity!

Solidarity! Support! Revolution!

URCA

Te Lentil representing URCA!

Anarchist Federation magazine Organise! #74 - YOUTH IN REVOLT

http://www.ainfos.ca/en/ainfos23949.html

 

"...The events of Greece and this wider wave of European radicalism are based around different communities than those we would recognise from the traditional labour movement. Although undoubtedly workplace organisation still plays an important role, a critical role even (one of the largest attended popular assemblies during the Greek December was that of the occupied GSEE trade union offices), geographical communities are playing an equally important part. In Greece the squats and social centres of the Exarchia district, and later the occupied town halls, universities and government buildings, played a critical role. In Italy, for the Anomalous Wave (rebellion sparked in response to education reform), popular assemblies were the key, with pupils, students and precarious teachers often breaking away from traditional trade union demonstrations to hold occupations and assemblies in the streets. The past year has also seen the resurgence of the radical university campus. Early this year saw over a dozen occupations across the UK in solidarity with the people of Gaza, and a new wave of strikes and occupations has already begun in response to recent attacks on education. Germany and Austria have also seen mass occupations. Claimants action groups are also springing up across the country and, in a time of such high unemployment and such sustained attacks against social welfare, have a crucial role to play. This is not to leave aside the inspiring examples of occupations of schools, swimming pools, libraries and other local resources that have recently occurred across the country. Riots and inner-city and urban unrest have obviously been a constant feature of working-class resistance, as have occupations. What is important in these examples, however, is the way these social spaces are able to act to unify otherwise isolated working-class people. These other means of organisation are able to act as an expression of class interests, in spite of the fact that in many cases there is a complete absence of the traditional labour movement.



The experience of many young people entering the workforce is almost reminiscent of the early days of organised labour. It is almost necessary to go back to basics. Informal links of fraternity and defence, the building blocks of a united working class, are more important than ever. People need to be in control of their own struggles and seek to cut across this growing divide, which is more than often also a generational divide, between unionised and non-unionised labour. It is clear from the election speeches of all the major parties that they intend to enter us into an 'age of austerity' that whoever wins the next election, cuts in spending and jobs in public services are on the cards. To those who have only known a post-Thatcher Britain this is nothing more than business as usual. That is not to say, however, that people are not angry and frustrated with the position that they find themselves in. Apathy and disillusionment are at an all time high, but as the many examples of recent unrest show. This does not mean that there is no hope. Quite simply, if capitalism has provided us with no future, then the responsibility we have is to make one for ourselves."

Stop hiding my comments!

Stop hiding my comments!

URCA

You are not making "comments", you are just sh** stirring!

'The Real Lentil' - if you had something of true and objective arguments to deliver and could somehow contribute to a fair and reasonable discussion with people of differing views, rather than simply pushing your now very familiar agenda, then the editors may not resort to hiding your so-called "comments".

Get your 6-pack out and cuddle up in bed for a good night's sleep. That may be more fulfilling than trying to continue such self aggrandizing and narcisstic kind of "stirring" that you do here.

Apart from your views perhaps come up with logical arguments and sensible analysis? I have not seen much in that way yet coming from your quarter.

Its called spam. comments are

Its called spam. comments are when real opinions are put forward minus your campaign to have your biassed view hammered through every post on this website. You should think about getting your own blog where you are hear your own hegemony all day long.

More analysis from Greek

More analysis from Greek groups, confirming the need for reflection over what has happened:

http://libcom.org/library/morbid-explosion-ideology

Well yeah, you would expect

Well yeah, you would expect reflection from those on the ground in Greece. I don't think anyone would disagree with that. What I find a bit distasteful is critisisms from people far removed from the flashpoints in Greece which seem to be on ideolicical grounds.

 

It is really unfortunate that one tragedy has completly overshadowed the struggle that the Greek Workers are going through. They deserve better than that.

I've been following the Greek

I've been following the Greek situation on my own blog since 2008. Just because I'm critical of ONE INCIDENT (as is the majority of anarchist around the world) doesn't alter my support of those in struggle. What would you rather see? Mindless slogans which offer no practical action to anyone? What we say or do here in our own movement is unlikely to dramatically effect situations in Greece. Yes, lets support them, but with our own struggle that has drawn lessons from theirs.

Economic "stabilisation" and "nightmare"

As commented by some the situation in Europe is at present supposedly "stabilising economically". When you follow these stock exchanges that picture gets confirmed. It is also stabilising that the common people in Greece and other European countries will be paying the bill for the speculations, the losses and the cheating done by financial entrepreneurs that only had the profits of their financy companies, the major banks and themselves on their minds! The whole EU countries are now choking under debt, which has grown immensely due to the "bail outs" of the banks that had enormous losses due to wrong speculation, high risk investments and negligent conduct. It is the average worker, tax payer and common citizen that now has the debt to pay that the weak and corrupt governments bailing these traitors out! So expect welfare, pension, wage- and salary cuts to the average worker in all those countries. In NZ we will be prepared for the same here, which will in return offer tax cuts to the better-off. It turns out to be true that the poor are paying again for the mistakes and selfish goals of the rich! If anybody considers this to be just, raise your bloody voice, we will have an answer for you, for sure!

Ok. I've been criticised for

Ok. I've been criticised for not adding anything to the debate. Some of those comments are fair. So I've tried to make it up by preparing my breakdown of the Greek debt crisis:

...

The reason Greece is in shit is that it has a huge Public sector and little productive economy. Tax revenues are nowhere near sufficient to sustain the massive spending required to maintain its bloated, inefficient bureaucracies and unjustifiable welfare entitlements. No Greek Government has the balls to cut spending because it would be political suicide - too many Greeks rely on the Public salaries or welfare.

The only remaining option is for Greece to borrow the shortfall. It does this by issuing IOUs (aka "bonds") to other governments and private individuals, to be paid back after a certain number of years (aka "at maturity"), and in the meantime Greece promises pays money to the lenders (aka "interest") for the favour. When one set of bonds "matures", Greece can issue another set to pay those previous ones back (aka "refinance" them). Greece might even issue bonds to help pay interest on bonds that it has already issued (aka "Ponzi scheme").

This happens over a period of years. Rather than paying back the debt that it originally issued, Greece just refinances it. In fact, because this is working so well, the Government decides that to stay in power it will make election promises to buy votes and borrow the money that it needs to fulfil those promises. Cunning plan! Meanwhile, the debt piles up.  [Cue ominious music]

At this point, people who buy bonds start saying "dude, Greece owes a lot of money and it's debt is getting worse. Is it going to be able to pay that back? I mean, what does Greece make anyway, other than Souvlaki, Ouzo and Club Med? Where's the money going to come from?". As confidence in Greece's ability to pay back the debt falls, the amount of interest that Greece has to pay to get the people to lend money to it increases. [Crescendo ominious music]

Eventually, it could get to the point where Greece has borrowed so much and makes so little that it's clear it will never be able to pay back the money it's borrowed. The moment lenders realise this, they stop lending to Greece. All of a sudden, Greece doesn't have any money for the Public sector salaries and welfare entitlements (not to mention other public services). And because Greece's economy revolves around public spending, when public spending stops, the economy stops. That means no food, no essential services, no security, no coffees at Fidels. Just chaos. And don't forget Turkey, an old enemy, is just over the horizon. [Dah dah dah dah!]

Luckily, before this disaster happens, some of Greece's friends stage an intervention. They say, "Look dude. You know this can't go on. This debt binge... It's just got to stop. We're your mates, and we want to help you out here. But we gotta do this our way". Basically this mean that Greece's mates (Germany etc) tell lenders that if Greece doesn't pay back its debt, then they will step in and pay it back instead of Greece (aka provide a "guarantee"). This gives lenders confidence that they can lend to Greece without losing their money, and allows Greece to keep on borrowing to fund its public sector spending.

But there's a catch. Germany etc know that they can't guarantee Greece's debt and let Greece keep on borrowing at the same pace it has been borrowing. Otherwise if Greece fails to pay back its lenders (aka "defaults") and Germany etc ends up having to pay all of Greece's debt, they will end up in debt the hole too. So, in return for the guarantee, Germany etc impose conditions restricting the amount Greece can continue to borrow. Because this is less than Greece has been borrowing, it has to cut public spending (the terrible "austerity measures"). Rehabilitating the productive economy will help as well, because that will raise tax revenues, reducing Greece's need to rely on borrowing to fund its public sector.

Here's where the shit appears to have hit the fan in Greece. The forced reduction in public spending means public sector salaries have been frozen, some jobs have been lost, and some welfare entitlement have been cut. This has affected or very likely will affect the standard of living of the ordinary Greek. When this kind of thing happens, the Blame Game strides out of the closet and political opportunists roll the dice. Capitalism becomes an easy (but false) scapegoat. "Bonds" sound like complicated Capitalistic type thingies (those filthy investment bankers were involved) and they was the things that got us in all the trouble. "FUCK CAPITALISM!" - the anarchist war cry rings out over Athens. And, for some reason, it becomes fashionable to stage a riot and kill people.

I question how that's a rationale or helpful response to the terrible financial situation that Greece has found itself in?

Much Respect for the Greek Workers Struggle..

I think one thing we could learn from the Greek Worker's Struggle at the moment is how to be self-reflecting and questioning of ourselves in the pressure of difficult and dangerous times. I'm inspired by their ability to remain strong in their struggle and continue their fight in solidarity and with strength. It's an awesome and large movement that has grown because of this. We have alot to learn from their struggle, and they have my highest respect. I don't think the issue of violent struggle is relevant in Aotearoa at the moment, and also that any violence against the Capitalist system is always "self-defence" and the many shades of gray that exist within that. I'm not opposed to fire-bombing banks, violence and anger expressed against the system is better than suppressed anger misdirected and taken out on those that you have power over, i.e your kids, minorities, women or your partner which is usually the case in this society. The problem that we have in NZ is that alot people are pretty apathetic and don't have much of an understanding of politics, because of our political processes and the power structures that exist to disempower and exploit them and NZ Anarchists are disconnected from the every-day reality of this. blah blah blah...

Exarchia Square and the

Exarchia Square and the neighbourhood assemblies

Argiris, an anarchist from Athens, gives a personal account of community resistance to gentrification in the run up to the Greek Olympics.

 

http://libcom.org/library/exarchia-square-neighbourhood-assemblies

 

This is an example of the organising work and social struggles that has been taking place for years in Greece, with anarchists very much apart of these struggles and resistance.

What's really inspiring is the use and success of Direct Action and neighbourhood assemblies.

It was like 2:30 in the

It was like 2:30 in the afternoon, we were drinking coffee and smoking the first joint of the day.

Any account that begins with a statement like this cannot be taken seriously.

The point is that

The point is that "Capitalism" is not to blame for Greece's debt problems. 

The root cause is the irresponsible borrowing and spending policies (aka "fiscal policies") of successive Greek governments.

Greek voters chose those governments. And so they should bear some responsibility for the situation that they now find themselves in.

One could say that is what

One could say that is what the people of Greece are doing right now with no other option available to them other than to vote in the other party who keep doing the same thing. One answer, refresh the tree of liberty and start afresh, or send their pent up rage at the Government for being a long line of successive fuckups.

What do you think would be a better solution Lentil.

Hoff, that would just be

Hoff, that would just be avoiding personal responsibility. The Greek people elected the governments that got them into this mess. They only have themselves to blame. Did anyone stop and think that all those sweet handouts and cushy civil service jobs might be too good to be true?

Ok then what do you think

Ok then what do you think would be a better solution 'I am Leon'

Taking personal

Taking personal responsiblity. The Greek people need to reflect on what caused the economic and social mess in their country. They need to accept that they were collectively living on borrowed money beyond their ability to repay it. They have to accept the austerity measures. The middle class needs to stop expecting something for nothing.  The elites and the wealthy need to put a stop to political corruption and tax evasion. The anarchists need to reflect on whether their analysis of the situation actually offers any real solutions. Basically, everybody in Greek society, from top to bottom, needs to suck it up and work together to rebuild their nation.

They need to reduce the size

They need to reduce the size of the public sector, cutting welfare entitlements, and imposing efficiency on remaining services. They need to grow the private sector and the productive economy. They need to introduce a broad based, fair, tax system. They need to root out, expose and punish corruption.

These are likely to be painful measures. But they are necessary ones. Whether there is the political will to introduce those measures... who knows?

I think it's lucky they aren't in charge of their own monetary policy. I think the temptation would have been too strong to print money and inflate their debt away. That would have been a sure path to economic ruin.

Rioting and burning shit down just makes the situation worse.

Isn't that all a little

Isn't that all a little utopious? If any of that was possible in Greece then it would have already been tried. However the house is just too rotten through and through so time for the good people of Greece to burn down that little corrupt cash cow for the ruling elites and start again. Ash makes good fertiliser haven't you heard...high in potassium(K) and we know just how much the soil is deficient in that these days.

Isn't that all a little

Isn't that all a little utopious?

It's not utopious at all. The process of resolving the Greek debt problem will have to happen gradually. Greece has maxed out its credit cards and now it needs to pay them back. That is hard work.

If any of that was possible in Greece then it would have already been tried. However the house is just too rotten through and through so time for the good people of Greece to burn down that little corrupt cash cow for the ruling elites and start again. 

No, it hasn't been tried. That's how they got into this mess in the first place. 

The problem is that the short term political incentives are wrong. Entitlements were used to buy votes and those entitlement were funded by debt. Because elections run over relatively short periods, borrowing to buy votes became more important than building a stable, sustainable economy. That is the problem. Not capitalism.

I'm not sure the point you're trying to make about "ruling elites". Who are they? How is it that they have benefited from the Greek debt crisis at the expense of the worker? Interested in your thoughts.

However the house is just too

However the house is just too rotten through and through so time for the good people of Greece to burn down that little corrupt cash cow for the ruling elites and start again. Ash makes good fertiliser haven't you heard...high in potassium(K) and we know just how much the soil is deficient in that these days.

What beautiful poetry. I have a deep seated love for revolutions that are also friendly to mother earth.

A world without money would

A world without money would be a beautiful place.

Yeah, well that'll never

Yeah, well that'll never happen. We have to work with what we've got.

Money!

A world without money would be a horrible place. Money acts as a medium of exchange and a store of value. Without money there would be no way to efficiently trade the things that one produces for the things that others produce. We would have to work out how many lattes for a cow and how many pairs of tight black jeans for a lecture on post-left feminism. That is some impossible maths. But I suppose when one lives on government handouts, rather than the productive capacity of one's own labour, that's a difficult concept to understand.

Also, I'm disappointed at the responses to my post explaining the Greek debt crisis. A story of ignorant vandalism by some thuggish youths and a vague post about the inspiration of Greek riots seem to miss the point entirely. They certainly don't answer the question: How do riots help? If one understands the problem first, then one is in a better position to assess a solution.

MONEY

YEAH - LOVE LOTS OF IT!

see below

Good try "The Real Lentil"! At least you come up with a fair attempt to explain economic developments in Greece. But I believe the story is not quite that simple. "I mean, what does Greece make anyway, other than Souvlaki, Ouzo and Club Med?"

There is a bit more to the economy of Greece than this though. Of course tourism is very important, so is agriculture and shipping and trade.

http://stats.oecd.org/viewhtml.aspx?queryname=18154&querytype=view&lang=en

http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/countries_e/greece_e.htm

http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cfm?story_id=16116773

Above are a few links for getting a bit more information about Greece and its economic situation and statistics.

http://stat.wto.org/CountryProfile/WSDBCountryPFView.aspx?Language=E&Cou...

http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displayStory.cfm?story_id=16063896

Of course this is all rather dry and boring information that does not excite any young anarchists, communists and socialists looking for any chance to have a bit of street revolt and revolution, but life is not always full of excitement.

You are right that Greece has some homemade problems like a level of corruption higher than in other countries belonging to the EU. Because many state salaries are actually not very high you have teachers, doctors and so forth finding ways to supplement their income by doing extra deals for extra payments.

Compared to France, Germany and even Italy it does not have that much industry and has benefitted to some degree through subsidies towards its farmers coming from the EU coffers. Tourism has been strong for generations and helped earn foreign currencies.

The introduction of the Euro to the Eurozone countries was a risky measure from the start, because what it brought was one currency for a range of countries that did not really follow one set of economic, social and other policies. Each member state still has its own government and hence own left, right, centre or whatever kind of politics.

Hence the only thing that could control the stability of the currency in the Eurozone was the so-called stability pact which the Germans pushed for from the start. They also wanted the European Central Bank to follow strict anti-inflationary policies like the former Bundesbank.

With the recent emergency measures announced only days ago all that has now gone out of the window. Now the ECB has resorted to take measures to bail out debt-burdened countries like Greece by guaranteeing their sovereign bonds and loans.

Greece has fiddled with its accounts in the past and perhaps was not ready to join the Euro. Countries like Greece, Portugal and to some degree also Spain have always been the poorer member states with weaker economies. They felt that by joining the EU and later also the Eurozone they could swiftly improve their economies and living standards to measure up to the so far wealthier countries in the north and west.

It proves itself now that the EU can only survive if they follow one common economic and social policy and administer their affairs in true solidarity. Whether that will be possible will though be shown in coming years. The worry is that nationalistic tendencies will be re-awakened due to perceived "injustices", like for instance the German and French taxpayer feeling they have to pay for the neglicent policies of Greek governments and the debts that Greece has created.

But anyway, is it really in the interest to have banks make money by issuing financial instruments and collecting interest on it? That is what you would certainly consider to be typically "capitalist". Should we not rather have a system where true work and true exchange of fair and interest-free goods and services are the rule? And what about profits for the benefit of a few shareholders, that mostly have the bulk of shareholder's voting powers in corporations? Is that in the interest of a business or organisation or perhaps state or alliance of states to run economies like that?

Under existing rules of the financial order we have the poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer, whether that is withing societies of single countries or between certain "wealthier" and poorer countries, and so forth.

Greece is on a downward spiral and the common people will carry the brunt, so that the loans can be paid back with interest. The worse it gets into debt, the more it will be condemned to be "down there".

Your logic is that the drowning should discipline themselves and pull themselves out of the swamp or quagmire by their own collars or necks!

I do yet want to see where that has succeeded!

Thanks for taking the time to

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.

You'll appreciate that it was a simplistic description of the Greek economy and debt problem aimed at those unfamiliar with economics.

...

To answer your questions:

But anyway, is it really in the interest to have banks make money by issuing financial instruments and collecting interest on it?

The Greek Treasury issued the bonds, not private banks.

Some private banks may have bought the bonds (along with other governments, investment funds, individuals etc). But those bonds are worth less now because the market increased bond yields to factor in the increased risk that Greece would default. So people who bought the bonds when they were issued (including private banks) would have lost money on those bonds.

Should we not rather have a system where true work and true exchange of fair and interest-free goods and services are the rule?

It is fair to charge interest/rent for lending something to someone. You have gained the use of it at the expense of the person who lent it to you. For example, if I borrow your bicycle for a week, then isn't it fair that I give you something in return for it? If not, then I could go borrowing everything that I needed, for free, and never give anything back in return. That seems unfair.

And what about profits for the benefit of a few shareholders, that mostly have the bulk of shareholder's voting powers in corporations?

Not relevant to the Greek debt crisis. But in any event, isn't it fair that the shareholders who have contributed the greatest amount of capital to a company should have the greatest share of its profits?

The question of corporate control is an interesting one. Domestic corporate law defines how that control can be exercised. Usually it aims to shut down avenues for abuse. Additionally, most developed capital markets have some form of takeover regulation designed to ensure that if a major shareholder sells a controlling parcel of shares, then other shareholders are entitled to a share of the "control premium" attributable to the sale price.

Is that in the interest of a business or organisation or perhaps state or alliance of states to run economies like that?

Generally, yes.

Take your points but disagree on some - will reply later

Thanks for taking the time to analyse and respond (not many bother)! Some good points were made, yet I disagree and will post later.

Takeover regulations in most countries are a joke anyway

Not relevant to the Greek debt crisis. But in any event, isn't it fair that the shareholders who have contributed the greatest amount of capital to a company should have the greatest share of its profits?

The question of corporate control is an interesting one. Domestic corporate law defines how that control can be exercised. Usually it aims to shut down avenues for abuse. Additionally, most developed capital markets have some form of takeover regulation designed to ensure that if a major shareholder sells a controlling parcel of shares, then other shareholders are entitled to a share of the "control premium" attributable to the sale price.

The result of so-called "shareholder value contribution" clearly favours the rich to get richer. That applies the same in taxation policy in NZ and most countries. The more capital or revenue you have available, the more you can make with it and multiply it. Look at George Soros for example, who did ruthlessly exploit the Asian financial or monetary crisis to vastly enrich himself! That is just one example.

 

When you go on about major shareholder sales paying off to other shareholders, that may apply to some degree in some countries, yet it does not stop the wealth accumulation happening.

 

That is exactly what is a great danger to true democracy. We see this in media conglomerates running "private and commercial enterprises" and thus selecting "what sells" or is "admissable to sell" and what does not. Which media conglomerate does risk upsetting their owners or major shareholders? None is the answer! So where do we still have "public media"? It is being encroached on in every country to be taken over by commercial interests serving their business and the business of their share-holders.

If you look at the Greek economy it is only resembling a minute picture of the whole state of affairs world wide. The truth in many countries is that state governments have followed privatisation and commercialisation policies for decades now that have resulted in the state ridding itself of debt loads by simply passing it onto the private person and consumer. NZ is a prime example of this. Look at total private debt being about 90 % of GDP! The government has simply passed liabilities for education, health, welfare and certain types of other services to the citizen consumer. That way the state may look "healthy" by comparison, but it is a bullshit way of dealing with debt.

In the case of Greece the state has carried on a lot of liabilities instead of just passing it onto citizens. So what is the bloody difference? We have students in debt in total into billions of dollars in NZ, many leave the country for good to either pay back debt or simply renege on it. The state has cut services since the late 1980's, but that means the load has just been passed onto the citizen, resident and consumer. No proper savings policies except Kiwi Saver were ever implemented, this government does not encourage it, so even without sufficient investment in future education, science and development we remain a low wage, low salary and stupid economy.

It appear you think that is great. The SIS and police keep suppressing people that dissent and in general we have a small elite and mediocre upper middle class hanging onto some living standards by rotating and using ignorant and exploited migrants bailing this country out. This is shoddy at least and regugnant.

Wait for the world economy to collapse, one day you may see the light?!

Some points

Woah. Huge comment. I'll try and respond to your various points.

The result of so-called "shareholder value contribution" clearly favours the rich to get richer. That applies the same in taxation policy in NZ and most countries. The more capital or revenue you have available, the more you can make with it and multiply it. Look at George Soros for example, who did ruthlessly exploit the Asian financial or monetary crisis to vastly enrich himself! That is just one example.

The more capital you have to invest, the greater your return in absolute terms - sure. And there are other benefits too - lower relative transaction costs, greater investment opportunities, and increased ability to diversify. But anyone can accumulate capital. Get a job, and make choices to ensure your income exceeds your expenses, then invest the remainder.

Perhaps another point you're missing is the risk that comes with investment. Investment is not a case of "chuck money at it and she'll be right". If you make the wrong choices you could potentially lose everything. The return a person makes on their investment should compensate them for the very real risk that they might never get their money out. Take George Soros - what he is famous for is playing an extremely high stakes game of chicken with the Bank of England - if things had panned out differently he might have lost his entire investment (and more, because he was short selling).

I'm not entirely sure what your point is about tax policy. One can't really make statements like "tax policy favours the rich". You really need to look at the whole package of tax and social services to see whether the system is biased in favour of the rich. In theory we are a relatively socialist country - which would tend to indicate that the poor are favoured - not the rich. Having said that there are a number of problems with our tax system, especially around property investment.

When you go on about major shareholder sales paying off to other shareholders, that may apply to some degree in some countries, yet it does not stop the wealth accumulation happening.

Actually we have it here too. Takeovers regulation aims to ensure that the cash premium for control of an asset is shared between all shareholders in proportion to their shareholding. With smaller companies where that regulation doesn't apply, the company's constitutions will typically contain so-called drag-along/tag-along rights which achieve the same result.

If you look at the Greek economy it is only resembling a minute picture of the whole state of affairs world wide. The truth in many countries is that state governments have followed privatisation and commercialisation policies for decades now that have resulted in the state ridding itself of debt loads by simply passing it onto the private person and consumer. NZ is a prime example of this. Look at total private debt being about 90 % of GDP! The government has simply passed liabilities for education, health, welfare and certain types of other services to the citizen consumer. That way the state may look "healthy" by comparison, but it is a bullshit way of dealing with debt.

I don't understand the point you're trying to make here. I assume you're a foreigner so I'll explain the NZ position.

NZ's privatisation binge occurred during the fourth Labour government ('84 - '90) which came into power in a snap election after the previous Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, lost the confidence of the house. On opening the government books it was discovered that the previous National government had ruined the NZ economy through a number of failed policies, including "Think Big" expensive but failed industrial development initiatives - public debt was ballooning. To solve this problem, a number of state assets were sold off to to raise money and keep the state solvent.

That state asset sale doesn't have much to do with the current level of NZ indebtedness. There are two main causes of our current private debt burden: over-investment in property and high levels of consumption. Both can be attributed to a torrent of cheap credit from overseas (aka "hot money") attracted by NZ's high interest rates. Public debt is a different story: under the recent Labour government the public sector (and public spending) ballooned through increases to various social services and vote winning policies - ACC expansion, welfare expansion, increase education and healthcare spending, interest free student loans etc etc. With the recent recession, the new National government was put in the position where it had all these spending commitments from the previous administration but tax revenues had fallen sharply. The only politically palatable option was to slowly reduce spending commitments and borrow the remainder in the meantime.

It is not correct to say that the debt burden of education, health, welfare and other services has been privatised. That simply hasn't happened. We still have fully state funded education, health and welfare systems (amongst other things). Some of that funding comes from tax revenue. The rest comes from public (not private) debt.

In the case of Greece the state has carried on a lot of liabilities instead of just passing it onto citizens. So what is the bloody difference? We have students in debt in total into billions of dollars in NZ, many leave the country for good to either pay back debt or simply renege on it. The state has cut services since the late 1980's, but that means the load has just been passed onto the citizen, resident and consumer. No proper savings policies except Kiwi Saver were ever implemented, this government does not encourage it, so even without sufficient investment in future education, science and development we remain a low wage, low salary and stupid economy.

That misses the point that Greece should never have spent the money in the first place. Greece should never have imposed discipline on its public sector spending so that it didn't get into the position that it's in.

The debt burden of NZ students is a different story - and is partly related to the '80s privatisation reforms. But what also happened is that entrance requirements were relaxed so that more people could study, this in the hope that it would create a knowledge economy. More students meant more cost, a cost that the government couldn't afford. So they had to move to a user-pays model of education to ensure that everyone who wanted to go to University, could. Bear in mind we still have a very generous regime - interest free loans for education with no deposit or security. And it still represents a huge cost to the taxpayer in interest foregone.

If you want free tertiary education, the answer is simply - reduce the number of students and therefore associated costs (or offset costs by other revenue positive activities like overseas students etc).

It appear you think that is great. The SIS and police keep suppressing people that dissent and in general we have a small elite and mediocre upper middle class hanging onto some living standards by rotating and using ignorant and exploited migrants bailing this country out. This is shoddy at least and regugnant.

What are you talking about? What is your point about migrants?

The police don't suppress you because of your political dissent or thought. They suppress you because you make an ass of yourself at protests and annoy the shit out of the general public.

Lentil: Police suppress by way of enforcing existing laws!

You are on an argumentative side of the balace sheet, will reply, be assured! Just read your points you made after hibernating or rather drifting off to rubbish other posts on other topics. So DEUTSCHLAND UEBER ALLES, MIT KARL MARX, BEBEL, ROSA LUXEMBURG, KARL LIEBKNECHT UND DEM GANZEN GESCHWADER! HA HA HA wake up little germinating lentil, you may discover life and growth and something totally new and revolutionary?!

To solve this problem, a

To solve this problem, a number of state assets were sold off to to raise money and keep the state solvent.

Geoff Swier and Doug Andrews were the main achitects of Rogernomics, Andrews was a key player in the World Banks uptake and support for the privatisation reforms of the Pinochet Government in Chile and Geoff Swier was and is a devotee of Milton Friedman and Chicago school of economics trained.

But it was Doug Andrews more than anyone else that proselytised Douglas into the Chilean privatisational economic reforms being a key player in the World Banks promoting of such reforms following the Pinochet dictatorship. So in my thinking it was inevitable that Douglas's think tank would come up with the final result we refer to as Rogernomics.

The key to understanding this little hijacking by these Chicago Boys economists was that neither Douglas, or Richardson who followed on with some of Douglas's devastating reforms had any clue to the roles that they were appointed to do in economics. This put them both in the hands of and in debt to people like Andrews in Douglas's case, and Chicago Boy - Iain Reenie in Richardsons case.

Both Andrews and Reenie worked as puppet masters in order to make sure that the only options on the table at that time were the extremist privatisation and free market economic reforms that were being sold to NZ by them under the guise of "generally accepted world wide accountancy practice".

may differ on some of this, but generally GOOD POINT!

The so-called "Chicago Boys" were of course of an economic school that Milton Friedman guided. So that was popular with Thatcher, Reagan and quite a few after that. Of course many economies were in the shits then, but that did often have little to do with little efficiencies, it was also largely caused by the oil crisis in the early to mid 1970's. Economists always find the reasons for their theories and justify their harsh recommendations. But common sense does not always prevail. They get carried aways with "schools of thought" and "ideology", so that causes many more problems that may already have existed. The present situation is a result of a total loss of control of a too complex and uncontrolled financial and investment system in so many countries. Money was lent out too easily, but too many were simply in"casino mood". Tell someone to stop that, it won't work. On the other hand a "managed economy" is hated by speculators, because there is nothing to gain. So who should have the say in finances and economics? The gamblers and high risk takers or more common sensed administrators and managers???

Interesting.

Thanks K. I mean this sincerely: that was a great comment.

I wasn't aware of the players behind the privatisation reforms. It's an interesting view that it was driven not by the political ideology of the elected representatives (ironically a Labour government), but by that of their advisers.

How did these advisers come to drive reforms of such a radical nature? The political mandate and the financial impetus were clearly there. And I'm aware of the "ideological" direction of Friedman's Chicago Boys. But how did the two come together?

@Radical, if by "managed economy" you mean "command economy" then you should watch this. It shows us the fantastic prosperity of the last command economy in the world, North Korea:

How did these advisers come

How did these advisers come to drive reforms of such a radical nature? The political mandate and the financial impetus were clearly there. And I'm aware of the "ideological" direction of Friedman's Chicago Boys. But how did the two come together?

I thought I had covered that sorry. Douglas and later Richardson were given the job of fixing the so-called economic mess. Those advisors that surrounded themselves around Douglas were mostly opportunists who probably saw Douglas as naive and suggestable, and set about to basically indoctrinate him under the guise of advising him on modern economics.

The think tank Douglas set up that magically came up with the economic reforms that were replications of Reaganomics, Thatcher reforms and the Pinochet reforms, now known as Rogernomics was mainly just him and a group of pro-Friedman 'consultants'. The result was obviously quite inevitable.

It is from out of that think tank that he went from being an armchair economics major to become a fully fledged convert of Friedmans view of the world which he spoke quite openly about in his biography.

Richarson was mostly no different. She had also been given the challenge to take up where Douglas had left off and having even had less experience in economics than Douglas, was more dependant on the advice of of the likes of Reenie making Reenies job real easy for him to instruct/indoctrinate Richardson with Friedmans narrative of freemarket ideology misportraying it as the generally accepted world wide accountancy principles and practices.

That is how I saw those advisors use their positions to push those reforms, basically just wagging the dog...

Remember Brierly Investments, Fay + Richwhite and the lot?

Many young people here will not know what this is all about. NZ was PLUNDERED by opportunists in the late 1980's and early 1990's that made a fortune to the tune of hundreds of millions of NZ dollars that were ultimately moved overseas for further investments there into enterprises facing restructuring and privatisation. The game went on and on, so a few NZ'ers got filthily rich, but you will not see them in this country again! They are shy animals after all this. Also the state here bought back some assets previously sold, under-resourced, plundered and exploited for profits. Later the government bought back Kiwi Rail and other companies "at a loss", because the private operators ran them into the ground and just gathered profits over years. The present government gets stuck into Labour for bying the companies back, but it was THEIR mates that ran them into the ground in the first place, so that the previous government had to step in and save what could be saved. Now the new government wants to sell Kiwi Rail and Kiwibank (yet again). Is this sanity or insanity? It shows that the tories are all about making a buck for themselves and their mates, they do not plan longer term for NZ and the people here. Sadly too many do not realise what goes on. We are a country very much at the cross roads now, whether we fall or rise again is a question of peope WAKING up!

Dear Lentziel

Good contribution, dear Lentziel! I take note of the comments by the Dutch commentator and the various North Korean participants in this video that there was "a strong sense of community" in North Korea! I do not like Kim Yong Il or whatever the present "leader" is called. He is clearly a dictator of a Stalinist aera, and the sooner he goes the better. That does not mean that everything that may be happening in North Korea is quite as bad as some want to make us believe! I agree that things are not good there and radical change is needed. The people need true freedom and true democratic self-determination. But will that be offered by the US, South Korea and the capitalist West only waiting to have another country to subdue, exploit and manipulate? I doubt this. I remember when the so-called "Iron Curtain" came down in Europe, there was a sudden mass demonstration in Tirana, Albania, only a day after the socialist or communist government "fell". There was - I believe in 1989 - a flood of American Stars and Stripes waved at a demonstration in Tirana that very day. I was flabberghasted. That country had been "shut off" for decades from the rest of Europe and the world. If for "true democracy" did OVER NIGHT thousands of American US flags suddenly turn up in the state of Albania, how did this come about??? It makes very clear what happened in Europe then. I do not have many tears left for the dictatorships of Eastern Europe at that time, some were made to look worse than they were though. But how on earth did thousands of stars and stripes flags suddenly get into Tirana, Albania, over night? The answer clearly lies with Western intelligence, above all the CIA! Those that do not believe it, perhaps look at what happened before and after then. Europe has changed to the better, but also social injustice has become wide-spread, capitalism has taken hold and many do suffer nowadays, whether they understand why or why not is another question! Thank you Ronald Reagan and the US!

North Korea is sadly a poorly managed economy

When I talk about a "managed economy" I am not thinking of "5-year plans", "10 year plans" and directives to produce 100000 shoes by one factory and 5000 shirts by another. That is plain stupid and has proved to be stupid. My argument is about a situation where we have very "hands off" governments all over the world letting large corporations dictate to them what they see right or wrong. We have had a major financial and economic crisis, which I believe to be far from over, but it proved that the power of governments have become so irrelevant, the multinational banks, investment companies and some large corporations can influence and dictate to states what they want and need. They get bailed out if needed, because the states have social responsibilities towards their citizens and workers and hence can be black-mailed. This is an appalling situation. You with your unconvincing arguments want to justify this kind of economic system. It does not work and will never work. I mean a "managed economy" considers these challenges and takes care responsibly of the risks involved, so that the citizens, working or not, do get the basic protection that can be expected of any state caring for its citizens! If you consider this to be a totally irrelevant matter to consider and support "dog eat dog" kind of economics, just state so. That is your choice. You will be judged by what you preach and believe rather than what others may criticise about you. So dear Lentzilious take you stand and clearly tell us your recipe for salvation OR disaster. Thank you very much for debating anyway.

Give your girl friend a hug - she would hate all this logical sh

Sorry but maybe relax a little and give your dearest a good hug. The girls often struggle with this rational and analytical shit! Take a break and we get back at it soon!