From Athens, Ohio, to Athens, Greece
What can stop austerity? Resistance!
Published Jun 29, 2011 4:52 PM
Greek unionists see the class struggle clearly.
At first glance it would seem that Athens, Ohio, and Athens, Greece, are worlds
apart. Not only does language separate them, but more than 5,100 miles of land
and ocean stand between them. The only thing they seem to have in common is a
But the workers in Ohio and throughout the U.S. have an amazing amount in
common with the workers in Greece.
In cities, towns and states all across the U.S., workers have had their lives
torn apart by draconian budget cuts, layoffs and foreclosures resulting from
the loss of income and jobs, and more recently a right-wing assault to strip
workers of union rights.
On June 26, with just the stroke of the pen, Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott
Walker dismantled state health assistance known as Badger Care, concluded the
largest cuts to education in Wisconsin’s history, and attacked public
Greek workers resist austerity
In Greece workers are facing a second round of severe austerity measures that
are slated to cut more than $9 billion from their services, adding to massive
unemployment and poverty.
The big business media has falsely portrayed the plight of the workers in
Greece as their fault for “living beyond their means.” This cruel
distortion is meant to justify the resultant poverty that the Greek people will
be forced to endure and justify the robbery by the banks and the IMF.
The struggle against austerity measures has ignited the mass of people in
PAME, the All Workers Militant Front, led a successful general strike on June
15. Tens of thousands of people filled Syntagma Square in Athens outside the
Parliament, and thousands of workers marched in cities across Greece. Youth and
workers held their line despite attacks from riot police, who fired volleys of
tear gas canisters into the crowds.
On BBC World News a medical doctor participating in the protests alongside
workers and students in the square pointed out: “People will die from
these measures. Many will no longer be able to get medical care.”
General Secretary Aleka Papariga of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), also a
member of the Greek parliament, put austerity measures in perspective when she
declared, “The people must with their own hands take back what they are
owed and what belongs to them. [The capitalists] owe the people because of the
surplus value they steal in the process of production.” (www.kke.org)
The KKE has gone on the offensive, declaring that the working class should
sever itself from the European Union, the IMF and the bankers and fight for
Same enemy, same fight
The question of power and where this crisis comes from is an important one for
workers worldwide, particularly in the United States.
Whether you are a worker in Wisconsin or New York or Athens, Greece, you have
nothing in common with the bankers or billionaires wherever they reside. If the
present government, regardless of place or type, cannot protect and defend the
people, then the issue of workers’ and people power should be placed
firmly on the agenda.
The deficit is a fraud. The underlying issue is how the wealth created by the
working class is distributed and the inherent contradiction of how production
is organized under capitalism, creating a crisis of
“overproduction” and resulting in structural and permanent
In reality the people of Greece and the United States are fighting the same
enemy: the global capitalist system.
In a June 18 article called “Euro Jitters Ricochet Across U.S.,”
the Wall Street Journal showed how interconnected the capitalist economy is,
with some small towns and major cities in the U.S. already feeling the
reverberation of what is happening in Greece through sharp increases in
interest on municipal bonds (especially those funded by the Dexia company),
resulting in layoffs and cuts.
“‘We are far from Wall Street or Greece, but the impact is being
absorbed to the core in small-town America,’ said Kate Reardon, a
spokeswoman for Everett, Wash., a city of 104,000 people, where interest costs
are rising on a local rink and concert arena. In the Perris Union High School
District in Perris, Calif., which already was furloughing workers and
considering pay cuts, borrowing costs have risen by $30,000 a month, or about
two-thirds of the cost of a first-year teacher, who earns about
New call for general strike — two days
The Greek Parliament is poised to pass more austerity measures on June 28 to
satisfy the demands of the European finance ministers and the IMF, so the banks
and the rich can receive the next installment of a bailout package due on July
In response, PAME called for a 48-hour general strike, along with resistance to
the cuts. Given recent events, tremendous resistance is expected. Regardless of
the outcome, it will be an important chapter in the ongoing history of the
workers’ struggle in Greece.
And there will be tremendous lessons for workers here in the U.S. The Greek
struggle has rightfully placed on the agenda the question of whose crisis this
is and who holds the power. PAME noted in its statement: “We call on the
working people, the youth, the unemployed and the women to a carry out a
people’s uprising. We struggle along with the peoples all over the world
against the capitalist barbarity.” (inter.kke.gr)
Workers in Greece are resisting the same capitalist bankers and bosses who are
threatening workers here and ultimately endangering the planet. The capitalist
system is global. In May 2010 the KKE knew they were facing the combined
strength of the European bankers when they hung a banner on the Acropolis ruins
in Athens that read: “Peoples of Europe, rise up.”
On June 30 in Britain 750,000 teachers, lecturers and civil servant are set to
strike over pension cutbacks. The call on the Greek banner should also be heard
in the United States. International solidarity is needed more than ever for the
people of the world to prevail.
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