“Peoples of Europe, Rise Up” Greek Banner hung from the Acropolis, May 2010
‘The only way to resist shock is to know what is happening and why?’ Naomi Klein
(This article is “work in progress“, subject to change, as change comes)
Greece has seen massive unrest over the past half year; National strikes crippling the country, citizens being forced back from storming the parliament by riot police, cities in flames day after day, angry violent riots. Many people were injured, 3 people died when a bank was attacked. Amidst this chaos came a call last May, as angry Greeks stormed the famous Acropolis and raised a banner proclaiming; “Peoples of Europe, Rise Up.”
What we were seeing there, is now being played out in France. Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said he thinks that US and UK citizens should follow the French example by taking to the streets to protest. Are we seeing a European revolt unfold? If so, why, against what and for what?
Since the “financial crisis” that broke in November 2008, a series of Austerity measures are being forced on the People of Europe, meanwhile countries toxic banks are being baled out without citizens having a say. Oddly enough, there seems to have been little resistance to these massive cuts. What is happening is a form of SHOCK DOCTRINE, to push unhealthy economic policy, But, we are seeing resistance! Inspired by the fight to resist in Greece, France is now at war, UK is seeing first ripples of revolt, Spain saw an initial day of resistence on S29. Iceland people revolted and toppled their government. In Ireland a dumper truck drove into the gates of government buildings.
The Shock Doctrine: Premiered at the Venice Film Festival, this short film by Alfonso Cuaron and Naomi Klein outlines the arguments laid out in Klein’s new book in a forceful and immediate fashion:
Simply, we are being robbed, most of us are not aware of it, presently nearly none of us is reacting. BUT, something is stirring… People are finally seeing that the system itself is at fault, and that it can only survive by rushing in measures that in “normal times” people would object to. Thankfully People are waking up, the question is to what extent will they awaken to. It is one thing to question things, see the faults, even criticise what is wrong. It is another thing to turn thoughts into actions. Hopefully more and more people will join with existing networks working for change.
Ok, a little bit more about the Shock Doctrine, and more importantly, a little bit more about resistence to austerity cuts in Europe and beyond…
The Shock Doctorine/The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine advances a truly unnerving argument: historically, while people were reeling from natural disasters, wars and economic upheavals, savvy politicians and industry leaders nefariously implemented policies that would never have passed during less muddled times. As Klein demonstrates, this reprehensible game of bait-and-switch isn’t just some relic from the bad old days. It’s alive and well in contemporary society, and coming soon to a disaster area near you.
George Monbiot recently outlined the idea:
In her book The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein shows how disaster capitalism was conceived by the extreme neoliberals at the University of Chicago. These people believed that the public sphere should be eliminated, that business should be free to do as it wants, and almost all tax and social spending should be stopped. They believed that total personal freedom in a completely free market produces a perfect economy and perfect relationships. It was a utopian system as fanatical as any developed by a religious cult. And it was profoundly unpopular. For a long time its only supporters were the heads of multinational corporations and a few wackos in the US government.
In a democracy under normal conditions, those who were harmed by abandoning public provision would outvote those who gained from it. So the Chicago programme couldn’t be imposed in these circumstances. As the Chicago School’s guru, Milton Friedman, explained, “only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change”. After a crisis has struck, he added later, “a new administration has some six to nine months in which to achieve major changes; if it does not act decisively during that period, it will not have another such opportunity.”
The first such opportunity was provided by General Pinochet’s coup in Chile. The coup was plotted by two factions: the generals and a group of economists trained at the University of Chicago and funded by the CIA. Their ideas had already been comprehensively rejected by the electorate, but now the electorate was irrelevant: Pinochet used the crisis he had created to imprison, torture or kill anyone who dissented. The Chicago School policies – privatisation, deregulation, massive tax and spending cuts – were catastrophic. Inflation rose to 375% in 1974; the highest rate on earth. Even so, Friedman insisted that the programme was not going far or fast enough. On a visit to Chile in 1975 he persuaded Pinochet to hit much harder. The result was a massive increase in unemployment and the near-eradication of the middle class. But the very rich became much richer, and the corporations, scarcely taxed, deregulated and fattened on privatised assets, became much more powerful.
There’s little doubt Klein’s book–which arrived to enormous attention and fanfare thanks to her previous missive, the best-selling No Logo, will stir the ire of the right and corporate America. It’s also true that Klein’s assertions are coherent, comprehensively researched and footnoted, and she makes a very credible case. Even if the world isn’t going to hell in a hand-basket just yet, it’s nice to know a sharp customer like Klein is bearing witness to the backroom machinations of government and industry in times of turmoil. —Kim Hughes –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Heres a vid to get a fuller picture: Naomi Klein – The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Ok, now onto Resistence (Ideally I will be re-editing this section, as more and more resistence comes in. Expect UK stuff soon…)
Greeks Battle Riot Police & Storm Parliament, 5 May 2010
Protesters attempt to storm Greek parliament
“We are not Ireland, we will resist”, chants from the Greek street
Urban war in Greece
French riot police have forcibly cleared access to the main refinery supplying fuel to Paris
Scuffles Outside Downing Street.
29S Vaga General – General Strike
Occupied Bank in main square, Placa Catalunya
Police car is set alight at midday during the day of national strike
(EL PERIODICO) Day of struggle and fire
7pm Mossos open fire with rubber bullets. 60+ injuries during the day
A Capitalist doll was hung at a recent protest in Iceland
Down with Capitalism
Invasion of the Central Bank
Shock Doctrine: Website | Guardian review | The shock doctrine (Short animation) | Naomi Klein – The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (full 1.5 hour vid) | Naomi Klein debates Alan Greenspan on Democracy Now | Financial Meltdown section on Democracy Now | Greece: Trouble erupts as protesters try to storm Greek parliament | Greeks Battle Riot Police & Storm Parliament (vid) | Greek protestors hang banners on Acropolis | video of banner | People will rise against bank bailouts globally (vid)| Greek workers stage general strike | From the Greek Streets | “The People of Greece Are Fighting for the Whole of Europe”: Tariq Ali on Democracy Now | France: Blockades, direct action and demonstrations in France | Tariq Ali: The French are fighting for all of us | France on strike (photo report) | French strikes and protests: live updates oct 19 (Guardian) | French strikes and protests: live updates oct 20 (Guardian) | Sarkozy risks breaking the spirit of 1968 | UK: George Monbiot: Britain’s Shock Doctrine (mirrored at Guardian) | Johann Hari: A colder, crueller country – for no gain | They say cut back we say fight back! |Two thousand at downing street cuts protest | Four held in protest at government building | 15,000 protest austerity cuts in Belfast | Spain: Barcelona – General Strike, Bank occupations & riots on day of action | S25 Occupation of Bank (vid) | National strike video Barcelona | Iceland: Direct Action in Iceland |People Start Revolting In Iceland | Protests in Reykjavik, Iceland (vid) | Nine Protesters Charged for Attacking Parliament | Ireland: Protest at Dáil over bank bailout | ‘Storming’ of the Dáil: The day Ireland stood up, but couldn’t be counted | Storming of Leinster House (vid) | Garda Attack éirígí Anglo Irish Rooftop Protest (vid) | Peak of protest: More than 100,000 join anti-government march |Truck crashes into Leinster House (vid) | Why the Irish aren’t revolting | Call for a massive protest following Claiming Our Future event
Now, get away from that computer, and onto the streets…
(This article is copyleft, share, copy, distribute as you see fit. Tell us of other zones of resistence, help in this “work in progress”)