Greece: A change in the constitutional order?
A funny kind of democracy was on display in Greece on Wednesday. Under orders from Brussels and Washington, MPs in Athens passed a slew of stringent measures [Wait a minute. I thought Greece was an independent country? Are we rethinking the Peace of Westphalia?] to raise €28bn (£25bn) in a hurry [NOW NOW NOW] – even while hundreds of thousands of protesting Greeks faced [non-violence is a strategic asset] massive amounts of teargas and riot police. After the package was voted through by a wafer-thin majority, politicians were escorted out of the parliament by police. For anyone who has ever worried about the democratic deficit in Europe [the United States is, of course, an exception], here it was, laid bare on the rolling-news channels. And those protesters were not a vocal minority; polls suggest that up to 80% of Greeks reject ["all walks of life"] these austerity measures.
This is not only criticism; it is an analytical point too. As Alexis Tsipras, head of the far left Synaspismos party, shouted outside the parliament building: "You won't go far with all the people against you." The majority of lawmakers inside would probably agree with him. ... [L]egislating does not make it so [if the state is not legitimate] – in Greece, with its long-standing mistrust of the state, more than anywhere else in western Europe. ...
Politically, this will feel like an imposition by European [bankster] elites on Greeks who missed out of the best bits of the previous decade's boom; practically, it will be impossible to pull off within four years without more massive retaliation by the trade unions; economically it will be disastrous. ... Greece is being pumped with cash so it can repay its debts to German and French banks. The financiers are being bailed out, while the economy craters, society is pushed to breaking point and Greek politics becomes ever more combustible.
Not a bug. A feature. It will be up to 80% of the Greek people to manage the combustion. The banksters are betting they won't be able to.
Also, too, the banksters are getting laws passed NOW NOW NOW, and what we think of as "government" is only kabuki. Sound familiar? So, if banksters can dictate what laws are passed when, doesn't that make them the state? Do you recall voting for that? I don't, but maybe I didn't get the memo.
UPDATE Here's what an Athenian journalist at the Guardian concludes:
But as an Athenian, I must write that it is heartbreaking to see my city torn apart while 300 people, most of whom are fundamentally part of the problem, decide on dubious solutions without any form of mandate, even in the loosest sense of indirect democracy.
I am certain that Syntagma is the locus of the first advanced-democracy revolution we have ever seen. It is amorphous, apolitical, ill-guided at times and unguided mostly. It is painful and destructive, as all revolutions have been, and it's only just beginning.
Yep. Manage the combustion. Who's going to?
UPDATE More on Syntagma Square from Ekathimerini, in Greece:
Modeled after Spain's “Indignados” who took over Madrid's Puerta del Sol and other public squares earlier this year, Athens's “aganaktismenoi” (Indignants) have camped in the capital's main square since May 25. A month after the first call on Facebook and other social media, Syntagma, or Constitution square, the starting point to the capital's main commercial street, is playing host to a postmodern incarnation of the ancient Athenian agora. ....
Every evening, hundreds of people gather here to discuss anything and everything about the crisis. Speakers, who are chosen by lot, are given a two-minute time limit so as to allow for the greatest possible number of contributions. There is little of the typical booing and hissing, and audiences react mostly with hand gestures: waving their hands in the air for approval or giving a thumbs down when they disagree. Interpretations of what is happening in the square range from the groundbreaking to the delusional or just plain silly. ....
In the beginning, the Indignants were mostly portrayed as a non-political grouping. ...
assiliki Georgiadou, a political science professor at Panteion University in Athens, has kept a close eye on the demographics of the square. All findings so far, she says, indicate that we are dealing with a “politically active” audience. “These people are deeply disaffected and disillusioned with politicians, with the political parties and with the institutions at large,” she explains. Their reaction was not a bolt out of the historical blue. Most research shows that people's disaffection with Greece's social and political institutions dates back to the early 1990s. A public survey published last year found that nearly nine out of 10 Greeks are “dissatisfied with how democracy works.” The local media, which have suffered their own barrage of criticism (some of it fair) as sycophants of the status quo, like to describe the movement in emotional rather than ideological terms. “But frustration is not merely an emotional reaction. Frustration is the preamble of political protest,” says Georgiadou.
“Any kind of politics of resistance starts from a refusal. Refusal is the first step in any process of eventual political confrontation,” Douzinas says. The phenomenon seems to have a dream-come-true quality for some, and Douzinas is certainly happy to connect the dots. “Without people being in a space, taking it over and declaring their refusal of whatever it is that they want to reject, no radical change has ever taken place in history,” he says. ....
When it comes to self-criticism and proposals to overcome the crisis, detractors say, the Syntagma folk are uncomfortably laconic. “Far form being the frontline of any kind of solid movement, the Syntagma camp-in is a confused, depoliticized, borderline-petulant [Ah. "petulant."] response to the economic crisis,” writes Brendan O'Neill, editor of spiked website, in The Australian. He is annoyed at the absence of any serious debate about the hard stuff. Save their vociferous opposition to austerity measures, “absolutely nothing of substance is proposed,” he writes.
Most analysts predict that the Indignant movement will fizzle out. “Because these movements reject any linkages to political parties, trade unions and other well-established organizations, they do not last long,” says Mouzelis. But the long-term impact on Greece's political culture must not be discounted. “Politicians will not be able to operate 'as usual' anymore,” he says. And even if the hype about direct democracy in action is exaggerated, recent developments have made people realize that they can be active citizens without belonging to any particular party or trade union. “A democracy should welcome the existence of active citizens; it's not something to be afraid of. After all, it's better if people get together in public squares than becoming numbed couch potatoes,” Georgiadou says.
Back in the square, the assembly is voting on the resolutions proposed over the course of the day. Attendants vote in favor of organizing concerts on a daily basis, but reject a proposal to invite the country's premier for talks. Decisions will soon be posted on the real-democracy website. Most of them dictate actions to be taken during the two-day general strike on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Ambling over to the crowd, Marinos says that what happens during the strike may well determine the future of the movement. He ponders the Marfin bank tragedy in May last year. Three employees died when the premises were firebombed during an anti-austerity rally. “Should there be human losses like then, the whole thing will die.”
Oddly, or not, none of this is covered by our famously free press.