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Greece: After the Tear Gas

The cowardly police murder of 15 year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in Athens on December 6th was the catalyst for days of rioting, protests and occupations. Although these have now largely died down, the country remains on a knife edge.

Greece has a turbulent history, being ruled between 1967 and 1974 by a US-backed military dictatorship – a regime brought down by a mass rebellion inspired by students at Athens Polytechnic in 1973.

In the run up to the recent shooting, the country was rocked by a series of high-profile scandals implicating the government, church and judiciary. Wanton police brutality and racism are rife; unemployment levels have soared to 70% among the 18-25s; 1 in 5 Greeks live in poverty, and low pay and high prices run in parallel. To top it all, neo-liberal reforms and austerity measures have compounded a biting recession.

After the rioting subsided, schools, universities and council buildings remained occupied. A general strike took place during the revolt. Days later, in a move to counteract union bureaucrats distancing their members from the revolt, a group called the General Assembly of Insurgent Workers occupied the offices of the General Confeder-ation of Greek Workers in Athens. There have been moves to form autonomous assemblies and bridge the gap between disaffected youth and workers. Despite the predict-able statist lies about a small band of “anarchist agitators” behind the unrest, even sections of the disillusioned middle class warmed to the cause. TV and radio stations across the country have been occupied in response to media distortions.

With the tear gas having dispersed, it remains to be seen if the simmering discontent can morph into something more productive and tangible, or if the moribund forces of the old left will again recuperate the struggle for their own ends.

Excerpt from General Assembly of Insurgent Workers banner:

From labour “accidents” to murders in cold blood, state and capital kill. No persecution, immediate release of the arrested! GENERAL STRIKE, workers self-organisation will become the bosses’ grave.

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