Post by Emma Avilés, Spanish Citizen Debt Audit Platform (PACD Bcn)
Confronting the failed State and the collapse of the Welfare System, the Greeks have begun to organise, fuelling the grassroots movement that softens the effects of the cuts and resists them. These networks arise of necessity, not ideology; many of their participants are non-political or from the social left.
During the last three years, there has been an explosion of solidarity with the creation of medical clinics and pharmacies, networks of producers and consumers, schools and cultural projects or cooperatives. Increased awareness on self-organisation and these initiatives act as a tool against fascism, for social cohesion contains it.
Civil society in Greece does not have a network of NGOs as wide as other European countries (many are owned by the boat magnates’ wives) and the EU is giving aid to articulate “official” solidarity networks, which has the risk of making those that have arisen spontaneously seem “illegal”. There is police harassment of “unregulated” exchange and fascist attacks.
Poverty becomes a “market” to seize: the needs of misery. An attempt to institutionalise what tries to escape the system, creating a market of large NGOs nourished with money direct from the EU, with the municipality to decide who receives it.
A drive to institutionalise social organizations while pushing Greece towards the Third World, however, Golden Dawn is not disturbed in their “solidarity” efforts: Greek food banks, a Greek blood bank attempt and “Doctors with borders”, taxi-driver’s licenses, ideological recruitment of police, secret services, mafia … But they don’t have the strength there is in social mobilisation, neither are they able to modulate it.
The flowering of these experiences has been the most important event in recent years: 22% of the Greek population uses, or has used at least once, such initiatives.
28% of Greeks participated in the squares, pushing to the point of believing that they could topple the Government (in fact the president left for 6 hours). What remains from the squares are assembly experiences and a wider knowledge of solidarity consumer networks.
The Greek Indignants called for direct democracy, pointing to the Troika as guilty and dreaming of building a new Greece. This debate has continued, the events of October and February 2012, the defeat of Papandreou and the rise of Syriza reflect this.
How can the Welfare State function after the Memorandums? People have to support themselves in order to stand up and resist, preventing social degradation. The big change the crisis has brought to Greece is reflected in the thousands of people who for the first time participate in collective projects and many, especially young people, do not refer to a political party, not even Syriza.
This post is also available in: Spanish