Mass movement comes to the forefront
Another shooting was reported on Wednesday (17 December) evening, striking a school student in the hand, but luckily not causing major damage. It is not clear yet who fired the shot (it is either a policeman or a fascist). The 16 year-old was a member of his schools’ council and was deeply involved in the movement.
The news created a new wave of anger, and the rallies in Athens today were very big, around 20,000. They were combined with a 24 hour teachers’ strike and a 3-hour stoppage of the public sector workers.
Many schools and universities under occupation
According to the official figures, 200 university departments (out of a total of about 400) and 700 schools (out of 3,000) are currently under occupation. There are still every day local and central demonstrations.
All this has terrified the right-wing government, which has a majority of only one in parliament. It has used all its force to stop the mobilizations. The mainstream media are blaming the demonstrators (and the riots) for the sharp drop in sales, which is mainly due to the economic crisis. The Greek police have run out of tear gas, and are now ordering more from Israel.
The ministry of Education has asked the teachers not to have lessons but to “engage students in creative time-spending” (like… excursions, picnics, museum visits, etc) in order to stop them from joining the demos.
The openly fascist organization “Golden Dawn” (masquerading as “angry citizens”) have attacked protesters side by side with the police, using knives. And few days ago, there were revelations of videos showing provocateurs with masks cooperating with police forces.
Mass movement to the forefront, but TU leaders play shameful role.
After the first two days of uncontrolled riots, the mass movement has come to the forefront. The only hope of the government is that the Christmas holidays will act as a break to the anger in society. That is why it is important for the movement to have a proposal for the continuation of the struggle immediately after the re-opening of schools and universities.
The leaders of the trade union movement have played a shameful role in this situation. Instead of joining the movement and mobilizing workers in order to defeat and bring down a weak, reactionary government, it did nothing for the preparation of last week’s 24hr general strike and is refusing to discuss another one. What is actually happening is that PASOK (Panhellenic movement – Greek social democracy) and its trade union leaders are terrified with the prospect of the fall of the New Democracy at this stage. It means that they will have to take power in a very unstable situation.
PASOK is not only not campaigning to bring down the government, it is asking school students to go back to their classes!
Political leaders, including CP, attack SYRIZA
Last week the prime minister, Karamanlis, called all the political leaders to meet him and asked them to “condemn the violence and the chaos” in a desperate attempt to boost his profile.
After the meeting, the CP leader, Aleka Papariga, attacked SYRIZA, accusing its leaders of not taking a clear position against the violence of protesters (riots). Actually, all the political parties made an attack on SYRIZA.
The reason is that SYRIZA is the only political force which attempted a serious political and social analysis of the riots, at the same time as fully supporting the movement and calling schools students and university students to stay out and continue the fight. It is also the only force that has raised the demand that “this government must go”.
How will the movement develop?
It is not clear yet how the movement will go forward. It is highly possible that there is a calm period during the holidays, but just after that we will see important mobilisations. The anger in Greek society is so huge, that it is not easy to manipulate youth and workers.
Xekinima, the Greek section of the CWI, is participating and playing an important role in many occupations and demonstrations. We call for a militant programme for mobilisations to be adopted. We also stress the need of mass action, and insist on the crucial importance of the working class to be drawn decisively into the struggle. We campaign for a 24 hour general strike, as part of a plan to bring down the government. And we insist on the need of the parties of the left (SYRIZA, CP, far left) to have a united front approach, to take the struggle forward and aim at a government of the Left based on a socialist programme, in the interests of the working class, the youth and the poor peasants.