Protests and Bank Smashing In Athens. What has it achieved?
I arrived in Athens 27th December and one of the first things i noticed was the burnt out banks and burnt out Kiosks. A strange contrast. The Graffiti written all over the place , an assortment of Anarchist signs and things such as "Fuck the police" and " Revenge against the police" etc, was impossible to miss. Also difficult to miss is the state of Athens, lots of homeless people, beggers, street sellers, high price food and goods etc. Oh, and did i mention the facist cops who travel in packs with guns and huge batons , staring at anyone who looks a bit different. (including me no surprise)
Being that i was visiting people who live in Athens i took the opportunity to ask them what they thought about what had happened. The general gist was that they were appalled at the killing of the young kid, who wasnt even involved in the riots, and they generally did not like nor trust the police or the government for that matter. However, there was anger at the smashing and burning of Kiosks, very small buisness holders who hardly represent the corruption of banks. There was also some anger at the banks being demolished, this was more borne out of inconvenienece for people who then found it difficult to withdraw cash to get by on a day to day basis.
I also spoke to some students who had been involved and quickly discovered a lack of propper organisation involved in this, which got me to thinking what had they actually achieved? The banks were back up and running in no time, major stores where opened again quickly and everything went back to as it was, barr some graffiti on walls and a few shops still burnt out(not major corporate stores) The answer it would seem is nothing really. I believe this to be the case for the following reasons, if you are organising such a massive demonstration or action that involves attacking the banks and the state building you need major organising in the surrounding communities so as many as possible living there are on side or are aware of what is going on and will be prepared to weather out the lack of access to their own money, or for small buisness to know to close their kiosks and stores(most of whom barely break even in this economy) It cannot be just students, it must be action which draws in old and young, students and non students, unemplyed, homeless, and employed.
An irony of it all is that i noticed that starbucks had avoided being hit and i asked a local high school student who knew people at the demo why this was? The reply was "most of us meet up there and have coffee there so no one wanted to ruin their meet up place."
On a positive note , it could be argued that Greek government recently denying the U.S to move weapons for Israel through Greece was a result of the government being aware of the chaos which would hit the streets were this to be allowed. this in itself, if the case, would show that there is some strength for causing such chaos. Also the occupying and taking over of the TV station was pure genius and should have been held longer with better prepared stuff to replace normal programming. One can only hope that it will become more organised as this goes on, and it will. The economy is horrible here with food prices for basics at a rediculous level, as is basic goods like clothing or kitchen appliances. The police are still brutal and fascist gun carrying nutcases, in general , and the government(or choices of) are still crooked as they can be.