By Peter Schwarz
It is not easy to report on the “Indignants”, the protesters in Athen’s Syntagma Square. We spent almost an hour trying to find someone responsible who could tell us about the goals and character of the movement; without success.
First, we went to a stand where in big letters above it read “information”. But as it turned out, this was merely providing technical advice on creating and organizing new committees. We were referred to another stand, where in turn we were sent to the press centre of www.real-democracy.gr.
We thought we had reached our goal, but a woman there told us that nobody had the authority to act or speak on behalf of the movement, not even members of the Steering Committee. The press centre was merely tasked with recording the daily discussions and decisions of the Steering Committee and the “Popular Assembly“ and putting them online.
The composition of the Steering Committee changes daily—once it was 50-strong, another time 500. If we wanted information, we should consult the web site, which also contains many contributions translated into other languages. We could interview individual members of the movement, but these only spoke for themselves, she said.
There was no one willing to provide information about the objectives and purpose of the movement, and take responsibility for this. This game of hide and seek is not a coincidence. It is justified by reference to the principle of “genuine” or “direct democracy”, according to which the people take decisions directly, without the mediation of political representatives or parties. In fact, it serves to hide the real political objectives of the “Indignants.”
Already the so-called “Popular Assembly”, which takes place every evening at nine on Syntagma Square, proves to be a farce on closer inspection. What some of the pseudo-left celebrate as the reincarnation of the Russian Soviets, in fact rather resembles Speakers Corner in London’s Hyde Park. There is an indescribable din. The audience comes and goes. The speakers are drawn by lot. They are given just 30 seconds, and may not identify themselves as representatives of political tendencies.
Under these circumstances, a serious debate over political perspectives is just as impossible as taking a truly representative vote. Such things are unwanted. All those who find themselves accidentally on the square can raise their hands to vote. There are neither elected representatives nor mandated delegates. This offers plenty of opportunities for infiltration and manipulation.
The content of the discussions and votes revolves around organizational issues, such as the form and timing of the next protest action. Alternative models for the settlement of Greece’s state debt or proposals for a new constitution can also be discussed. However, a thought-out political strategy, like politics altogether, is taboo.
Its representatives constantly emphasize the supposedly non-political character of the movement. Asking where are the leaders of the movement produces a stereotyped answer: “There are no leaders, just ordinary people.” But in reality, the movement has a conscious political ideology and perspective. The rejection of politics serves to prevent any discussion of a different perspective—or, more precisely, of a socialist perspective.
Walking over Syntagma Square, anyone with a modicum of political experience soon notices that the organizers of the movement are seasoned politicians. Several reliable sources confirmed to us that they mostly came from the pseudo-left organizations like SYRIZA, ANTARSYA and the tendencies within them, but are concealing their political identity.
Yiannis Bournous, a leading member of Synapsismos, which is allied to the German Left Party, boasted in an interview: “We were the very first party to call upon its members, supporters and sympathisers to join the movement on the squares.”
And Stratos Kersanidis, the press spokesman of SYRIZA, confirmed to us: “We were all surprised by the movement here at Syntagma Square. It was much larger than we had expected. But we immediately gave it our support. We are always there and support this movement.”
The Greek pseudo-left organisations work closely together with SYRIZA and ANTARSYA. Among those groups affiliated to SYRIZA, (in which Synaspismos plays the leading role) was, up until a short while ago, the Greek section of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), which is linked to the SAV in Germany and the Socialist Party in England. Actively involved in ANTARSYA is the Greek section of the International Socialist Tendency (IST) and the Pabloite United Secretariat.
The leaders of these organisations are experienced practitioners of left bourgeois politics. They have their own connections to PASOK and work closely together at an international level. In Germany, their members are represented in the German parliament and meet regularly with representatives of the government and the SPD, who fervently support the newly proposed austerity measures for Greece. In France the Pabloite New Anti-capitalist Party has operated for some time in leading circles of the political establishment. These people are in continual contact with one another by telephone, e-mail and SMS. They appear together at the same international gatherings and write for the same publications.
All sorts of semi-anarchic ideas and democratic illusions are to found amongst the rank-and-file activists assembled at Syntagma Square. Read the rest of this article... >>