Totalitarian governance escallates – austerity & repression (…to be continued)

The so called “government” of Greece imposed last week by a  ministerial decree the immediate closure of the public radio and TV, ERT, sacking its 2,600 employees with immediate effect. This decision triggered mass popular protests. On Monday 17/6, the Council of State ruled that ERT must reopen and cannot be closed without the approval of the parliament. On 21/6 the ”government” sent a warning to the workers in ERT who maintain the headquarters occupied for 11 days, to move immediately out of the buildings.

The opposition, which should have been ejected from the wrath of the people, was limited to conventional and anaemic complaints, including simple verbal confrontation between representatives of parties to win the impressions of their supporters. In the same formal framework was a “complaining” visit to the President of the Republic, with two good statements and nothing else. The opposition does not seem to understand that people are seeking different reactions to a totalitarian government than a conventional parliamentary opposition.

Behind these confrontations are the demands of the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which are formulating the Greek “government’s” austerity policies. In recent days, they have increased the pressure on Greece. An inspection delegation of EU and IMF officials is still in Greece and will prepare a report on the progress of the austerity measures for the end of July, to decide whether to pay the next tranche of “aid loans” to the Greek “government”. This includes 4,000 job losses to be imposed by the end of this month. This is only a small part of previously agreed 150,000 public sector job cuts by 2015.

European officials have already indicated that the Greek government has enforced only half of some 300 measures that are supposed to be implemented by the end of June. Greece has to “really concentrate all energy on the implementation of the program,” European Monetary and Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said.

These prospects and the massive repression of any resistance to this policy led to the massive eruption of solidarity actions with the ERT workers. When the “government” sent the police to cut off the energy supply to ERT broadcasting antennas on Tuesday of last week, it was broadly seen not only as an attack on jobs and culture, but also on democratic rights and as a sign of the ruthlessness of the Greek “government”.

Within hours, thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the main ERT building in Athens, which was—and still is—occupied by the workers. One day later, the crowd swelled to tens of thousands. Dozens of organizations and individuals rebroadcast the protest program that is being broadcast by ERT workers. There are still daily demonstrations taking place to reopen ERT, and the workers refused to sign the temporary contracts, which the government offered.

Underlying these developments is the escalation of the class struggle in Greece in recent months against a number of brutal social attacks on workers. As workers have launched more and more strikes, the “government”, responded with open strike-breaking. In January, they mobilized police against striking subway workers and imposed a state of emergency to force them back to work. The same happened to the seamen in February. In May, teachers, who even had not yet decided to strike, were drafted and thereby forced back to work under state of emergency legislation, as were Athens subway workers in January.