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Greece: This is the hope

Finally events in Europe are getting some coverage from Al Jazeera.* This from Greece:

In the days and weeks that followed, a series of occupations of town squares across the country's major cities saw a huge cross-section of Greek society come out to vent anger about the deterioration of living conditions - for which they felt they were not to blame and which they could not control. The thousands of people coming together daily at Syntagma square to participate in assemblies and joint activities have demanded nothing specific, but represent something entirely different and overwhelming [#174].

Greeks could keep trying what hasn't worked. Or they could try something new:

Everyone at these gathering is allowed equal time to speak, and issues range from organisational matters to resistance politics and international solidarity. Debates take place over the economy, education, and alternative commerce - and nothing is beyond proposal or dispute. People from different strands of life, political affiliations and ages are rushing to squares across the country to hear - and to be heard - without mediation, external supervision or internal force.

This is the "all walks of life" aspect that characterized the events of Tahrir Square. Now, this might not "work." For some definition of "work." Certainly, the process prevents or at least impedes the development of a revolutionary vanguard (or a general in sunglasses, which ultimately comes to the same thing).

.... It is difficult to predict the long-term legacy of the June 15 events, but it is already evident that what happened will hold serious significance for some time to come. In Athens, not only was this one of the most massively attended protests ["assembly" would seem to be a better word] of recent times, it also seems to have been the one with the most immediate effects: the city saw battlefield-like scenes with the existing hostility toward the police quickly developing into vivid hatred - fuelled by oft-reported cases of police brutality against demonstrators in recent years and against people on the day who had never previously demonstrated.

A reputation for non-violence is a strategic asset....

Equal or more fierce hostility has been shown towards corporate media in recent weeks, with a strong popular belief that the country's highly powerful media conglomerates have held a significant stake and, arguably, a role in running the country over the past few decades. With verbal and physical attacks against representatives of Greece's political elites [#31, #32]** becoming a near-daily occurrence, a new political understanding and culture seems to have emerged from the country's occupied squares: a culture that sees political and corporate media representation as part of the plexus of power that has misruled Greece. ...

For the people gathered in Syntagma, the intense political manoeuvring in the corridors of parliament seems to matter little. Theirs is a mass mobilisation that draws a distinction between representational and grassroots politics. Political parties seem unlikely to come to a halt over developments in the upper echelons of power. For them, the [austerity] Memorandum is not just a sum of persons or abhorrent policies, but a system of power that has misruled the country for 30 years, bringing it to the edge of collapse. It is a system of beliefs, values, expectations and political roles and identities that cannot be abolished simply by replacing the head or members of the government.

Contrast, say, Netroots Nation.

The people in the squares have started, again, to believe that they have the freedom and the responsibility to act; they are urging radical change through the creation of different personal and social relations.

By now, the distance between the people and their representatives might seem unbridgeable; as the old system of government crumbles under the burden of sovereign debt [wrong narrative!!], a new, grassroots system of politics is starting to make itself heard from the ground***.

Yes, that's the hope. Our elites are much richer and I think more adroit than the Greeks (though perhaps not the EU elites). If we end up with Syntagma- or Tahrir Square-like manifestations in this country.... That will be like the coming of spring after winter. I continue to insist that the essential aspect of Tahrir Square was not the march on the palace, or the end game, but the joy people felt as they entered, and the self-organization that joy powered. Like the joke about comedy: Petrol bombs are easy; joy is hard.

NOTE * So when are we going to see some AJ cameras in the squares?

NOTE ** None of this is covered, of course. Readers? Examples?

NOTE *** This is why, from a distance, I find the outcome of WI a bit discouraging. I don't know the ground there well enough, but I greatly fear the ability of the Ds to capture and decapitate grassroots movements. Sure, it's great to recall the Rs, and then what? Driving toward the same destination at 90mph instead of 100. If there's evidence that the grassroots are cleansing the Ds, instead of being corrupted by them, I'd love to hear it and be proved wrong, but we have the example of The Obama 527 Formerly Known As Daily Kos as a cautionary tale. Adding: In other words, let's hope Larry Sabato is a lying weasel:

Larry Sabato, chief of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said he thinks national nonprofits will be major players in what is likely to be more than just an Ohio fight.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year equated corporate political spending with free speech, finding that it would be unconstitutional to limit such spending. The same would apply to unions.

“[The Ohio battle is] getting loads of attention,” Mr. Sabato said. “Both sides see this as a trial run for next year’s presidential election, a chance to really get the machine reoiled. It’s a chance to get the two party bases stirred up, to get their lists updated, [and] their volunteers energized, which is all for the good. This will cost millions and millions of dollars.”

Er, no. It's all for the evil.

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