Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Monday, December 29, 2008

GREEK SOLDIERS REFUSE TO SUPPRESS PROTESTS

Rioting and unrest hit Greece after the police shooting of a 15-year-old boy in Athens on December 6. Most of the clashes have occurred in university cities and have involved students. By December 11 thousands of students were joined by striking workers. The uprising mirrors growing discontent among youths in many European countries over outdated education systems, lack of jobs, increased militarization, and a general apprehension about the future.

Many of the student protests were non-violent but then began turning to violence when it appeared that youths not associated with the students became involved. One protest leader, ZoƩ Kazakis an economics student in Athens, told the media, "We're overwhelmed by weirdos, guys who are not students and who act violently during our protests. They're the ones who throw marble blocks on the police and firemen. This morning, I went to the Polytechnic school, where the protests started. There were no more students there, but weird guys setting fire to things. When I asked them who they were, they told me to get lost. I wonder who those rioters are. I even wonder whether they haven't been paid by the government to make the protests get out of hand. We students are non-violent, we marched alongside our teachers; my parents and grandparents will join us tomorrow in the street during the nationwide general strike."

We've been hearing this story many times in recent years. Well intentioned non-violent protests suddenly are turned into violent events by unknown participants. I personally witnessed this in Minneapolis at the Republican National Convention late last summer. Often, long after the events are over, we learn that police agents had indeed been used to help provoke violence in order to publicly discredit the message of those protesting. The "violence" then gives the power structure the excuse to crack down hard on future protests.

In Greece something else quite wonderful has come out of these protests. Hundreds of Greek soldiers from 42 Army camps have issued a statement called: We Refuse to Become a Force of Terror & Repression Against the Mobilization; We Support the Struggle of School/University Students & the Workers.

The soldiers statement continues: "We hear that Athens, Thessaloniki & an ever-increasing number of cities in Greece become fields of social unrest, fields where the outrage of thousands of youths, workers & unemployed is played out.

"We hear whispers & insinuations from the army officials, we heard the government's threat, made public, about the imposition of an 'alarm state.' We know very well what this means. We live it through intensification [of work], increased [army] duties, extreme conditions with one finger on the trigger.

"The political & military leadership forgets that we're part of that same youth.

"WE'RE UNIFORMED CIVILIANS.

"We won't accept becoming complimentary tools of fear which some attempt to instill over society as a scarecrow. We won't accept becoming a force of repression & terror. We won't stand against people whom we share that same fears, needs & desires/common future, perils & hopes with.

"WE REFUSE TO TAKE TO THE STREETS ON BEHALF OF ANY STATE OF ALERT AGAINST OUR BROTHERS & SISTERS.

"As a youth in uniform, we express our solidarity with the people who're fighting & we scream that we won't become pawns of the police-state & of state repression. We'll never stand against our own people. We won't allow the imposition of a situation in the army corps that will be bringing to mind 'days of 1967' [when the Greek army had his last coup d' etat]."

Such words of solidarity from soldiers can only happen when you have a generation of young people (they still have a draft in Greece) who know their history and have a political consciousness.

Their example both inspires and gives hope that in some places around the world there is a rising against this ever growing militarism that wishes to subjugate the people under authoritarian rule.

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