When public spaces became public enemies
Amidst the troubled city of Athens, voices have been chanting for the recently lost squat of Villa Amalia. This historic squat wasn’t the first to be evicted in crisis-stricken Greece and as already confirmed not the last one too. On the 9/1/13 squatters re-occupied the space only to be violently forced out a few hours later by riot police in cooperation with other special forces of the police. This operation resulted in 93 (!) arrests. Furthermore, the police moved not far away in order to do the same in the “Skaramanga” squat.
It becomes more and more obvious that the government coalition is, while in decline, launching a full-scale and full-throttle attack against anything and everyone that is standing strongly against their policies. Unfortunately, it would be an overstatement to say that this is their dying breath because the political scene does not appear ready for a change. Nevertheless it is a clear sign of panic.
The government have during the last 6 months been ridiculing themselves in their spasmodic efforts to copycat the increasingly popular agenda of the nazis of Golden Dawn. In an even more self-humiliating attempt for vote-hijacking, PM Samaras’ main counselor -and known far-right extremist- suggested that Nea Dimokratia should unite with GD’s “basic elements”. Since cold war politics is still working to some extent they’re more than eager to use it.
We’ve already seen squats being attacked in Thessaloniki, Veria and other cities across Greece. The police also invaded ASOEE where they shut an independent radio station down. In general, they are viciously attacking all independent initiatives. All on the grounds of legality elegantly wrapped up in a MacCarthy-style rhetoric of “extreme-left hooliganism.” At the same time a media war has been following with tons of mud being slung especially against Syriza who is, at least for the time being, topping the polls. Nea Dimokratia, the main party of the coalition, is accusing them of covering up for “hooligans that have been burning and looting Athens for a long time.” And it continues as a plan leaked from the Greek police regarding the eviction of another 40 squats around Greece. Τhis is a direct attack towards the movement and a terrorization of the middle and working classes.
This state is in panic. It’s a state that is, within normality, drowning its own laws in bureaucracy but when it comes to smashing political spaces, law enforcement is fast-tracked and presented as an achievement against corruption. Not to mention the extra buck earned from the government’s grandiose plans of exploitation of the re-acquired spaces. Yes, the plans made by a political mafia that has, in many cases, sold public property and land for next to nothing while wealthy businessmen are creating gold mines, golf courses and elitist tourist attractions out of it. It’s the same state that has allowed private interests to trespass beaches or spaces in the historical center of Athens for financial exploitation disregarding their cultural, historical and/or environmental heritage and doesn’t even bother to ask for compensation. It appears that in those cases the laws don’t matter as much as they matter when it comes to self-organized cultural and political spaces.
Great achievements indeed, explained thoroughly by the mainstream media whilst high-ranked PASOK members are busy biting each other’s necks over the party’s involvement in tax scams and scandals of millions of euros. They are in terrible need for a good cover up. At the same time, the coalition is making more and more excessive use of the infamous “Acts of legal content” (laws passed without parliamentary vote) to milk every last penny from pensioners and the working class when ship owners, bankers and businessmen are going to pay in fact less. It is presented as the tidying up of the country’s fiscal system. It is, in fact, an upward redistribution of wealth.