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The echo of the anti G8 mobilization in Genoa in Greece

8. August 2001

By Panos Tsonpoulos, Athens

Around 3500 Greek demonstrators took part at the anti G-8 demonstrations in Genoa. It is interesting, according to the statements of the organizers, that over 80% of the attendants, were people who did not belong to any political group and most of them were inactive till now. Four different committees were set up reflecting different political attitudes: one pro-K.K.E., the second (Anticapitalist Antiimperialist committee against G8) composed of New Left Current, workers Revolutionary Party, Revolutionary Communist Party of Greece, Rizgari (around 125 demonstrators), the third (Committee for the International Demonstration in Genoa, over 1000 demonstrators) composed of the Coalition of the Left, the Space for the Dialogue and the common action for the Left, the network for the defense of political and social rights, youth of ruling party, Youth against Racism in Europe, Í.àŠ.O.A. (Renewal Move of the Ecological Left), Green Policy, Ecologists alternatives, youth of the ruling party etc., the forth (The Initiative Genoa 2001, 750 demonstrators) mainly composed of the Socialist Workers Party. The pamphlet of the Anti capitalist Anti-imperialist committee stated that “The struggle against globalization is a struggle against the dictatorship of multinationals, anti capitalist withdrawal from the European Union, a struggle for a new Workers internationalization, against the imperialist new world order, for the withdrawal of the occupation forces from Balkans, the closure of NATO, USA base in Greece. We fight for the formation of a militant anti capitalist and internationalist pole based on workers democracy, against ideas of regulating globalization and flow of capital. The Balkan center “Christian Rakofsky” (and the organizations that participated at the meeting in March 2001) participated under the slogans “NATO out of Balkans”, “NO to stability pact”, “Return of all refugees at home”, “Socialist Balkan federation”, “Abandon the prisons type F in Turkey”, “Free, united, socialist Kurdistan”, “Down imperialism and Zionism”, “Victory to Indifada, self determination of Palestinians”, “Socialist Federation of Middle East”, “No to privatizations”, “Nationalizatin of public industries that were privatized under workers´ control”, “Write off the third world debt”, “United socialist states from Atlantic to Uralia”, “Down the European Union”. The Coalition, SWP had the slogan “people above profits”, “another world is feasible”. Understandably, there were ideological differences about the different committees set up. Prin (1/7/2001) criticized the reformist trend, which in Porto Allegre summit proposed the Tobin tax on financial transactions. The newspaper of KKE (M-L) “Proletarian flag” (21/7/2001) explained why the party abstained from the anti globalization demonstrations. It had the question “Globalization or imperialism?”. Below, some extracts: “The term globalization is inappropriate and aims to present it as something objective and unavoidable. Since globalization is so powerful, every effort to overthrow capitalism in national level is vain. The withdrawal of a country from super national organizations is considered as utopia. The correct is to refer to imperialism. The exploited are transformed to a political power on the base of the concrete problems they face, while their struggle is developed. Otherwise Genoa will be without oxygen. The most important chance to express the internationalism the last years would have been the effort to cancel the air strikes against Yugoslavia. It did not. We feel angry for the participations at the demonstrations supporters of the air strikes”.

The deportation of the Greek demonstrators and the reactions domestically
The 8 were offered hospitality at a luxurious cruise ship of Greek ownership. Two members of the crew, who were recently hired, were temporarily expelled (obviously due to their political ideas) and promised to take the job again after the summit, if they sat quiet.

When the ships arrived at the port of Ancona on Friday July 19th, 2001, 140 demonstrators (mainly friends and members of the Coalition and the network for political and social rights) from Greece were forced to return home. When they refused and sat down as a protest at the garage of the ship, they were beaten (7 were injured) and pushed inside the ship by over 300 Italian policemen. The Greek ministry of foreign affairs expressed its annoyance orally (it avoided to send a written letter of protest). The expelled said that they had no help from the Greek government. The crew of the Greek ship was left without instructions what to do from the Greek minister of foreign affairs and the Greek consultant in Ancona appeared late without instructions from the ministry of passenger shipping what to do. After the request of Konstantopoulos, a debate took place in the parliament and the minister of public order admitted that 4 Greek policemen participated at the international police force in Genoa.

The government spokesman said that if the center left were in power, the treatment of the demonstrators would have been different. PASOK stated that “the act to prevent the demonstrators from demonstrating peacefully for their ideas, is anti democratic”. The youth of the ruling party condemned the forced repatriation of Greek citizens. The Militant Socialist Party of Greece stated (22/7/2001) that the European Union showed how it means democracy, social state. From the Greek government we did not expect to protest the Greek citizens or to recall the Greek ambassador from Rome. At least we expected a typical protest. Although the government spokesman denied that the Greek authorities sent data to the Italian counterparts, there are indications about the opposite. The pro government daily newspaper Nea (24/7/2001) wrote that the Greek Intelligence Service sent a list of suspects shortly before the Genoa demonstrations and destroyed all the relevant documents. The next day most newspapers had the issue at the first page. The spokesman of New Democracy Roussopoulos wondered if the accusations are correct and asked the government to take a clear cut position. The government spokesman accused New Democracy of vilifying the government and referred to the Italian newspaper Messaggero, which accused the Greek authorities of failing to give information about the Greek protestors. The Greek Intelligence Service announced that it did not give any list in any form and stated that the names of organizations, groups, citizens that would participate were known. Therefore, the Italians were informed through the Internet and the diplomats in Greece. The Italian ministry of internal affairs confirmed the announcement of the Greek authorities. In fact, according to the Shengen treaty, the Greek authorities were obliged to provide information for suspects to the Italian counterparts. The Shengen treaty, contrary to what many claim, was applied, not suspended, because according to article 5 the entrance to the territory of the one of the cosigned parts of persons that are capable of destructing the public order, the international relations is forbidden.

The statement of the Italian embassy in Athens tried to justify the deportations: “The authorities intended to guarantee a legal framework for the ones who intended to demonstrate peacefully. The Greek authorities failed to inspect the Greek demonstrators who were among the passengers. Some of them carried weapons and other dangerous materials. This forced the Italian authorities to take the appropriate measures.”

On Friday 20/7/2001, around 1000 marched to the Italian embassy in Athens (among them were the 140 deported from the Italian authorities) in two separate marches. One was organized by the pro KKE committee and the pro Coalition committee. The police prevented them from reaching the embassy. On Saturday 21/7/2001, members of K.K.E. marched in Salonika shouting “G8 murders, wake up”, “Law is the right of the people, not the constitutions of the imperialists”, “The imperialists divide the earth again, they draw the borders with the peoples´ blood” to the U.S.A. consulate. On July 24th, demonstrations took place in Athens, Salonika. On July 23rd, a demonstration took place in Athens. Some anarchists set fire to banks. In revenge for the death of Giuliani, hand made bombs exploded in branches of Italian firms that sell cars, Italian cars.

Views about globalization. Attitude of intellectuals, political parties
The minister of development Vaso Papandreou expressed the hope that there is the need in the contemporary world for a new Carl Marx. The minister of defense Tsohatzopoulos spoke about the inequality at the distribution of wealth and defended the constitutional right to protest and added that the G8 adopted behaviors of totalitarian regimes in order to impose the order. The president of New Democracy Karamanlis, said that the people who worry are not our rivals. We must build a Europe with social solidarity. He added that it is inadmissible a European government to treat European citizens like that (referring to the deportation) and added that the demands of the protestors must be listened to, but not necessarily adopted. He criticized the isolated elites which fail to grasp the demands of the people. à”he spokesman of New Democracy Rousopoulos said that “what happened in Genoa confirms the worries of New Democracy about the way the globalization is going on” and asked the implementation of policies that reduce regional inequalities, poverty, unemployment. KKE condemned the crimes of the Italian government and the ones of U.S.A., E.U. The terrorism reveals the real face of imperialism. The Greek government should stop cheating the Greek people. The Greek government sent information to the Italians, applying the Shengen agreement, about the demonstrators. The secretary Papariga criticized the minister of public order, because he failed to make any statement. The Greek government spokesman Repas also stated that the protestors should have isolated the small violent groups and stated that the creation of human civilization is incompatible with unemployment, poverty, misery of large sections of the global population.

The MP of K.K.E. at the Europarliament Alisandrakis said a greeting to the Genoa demonstrators, saying that “the barbarous police aggression indicates the limits of the bourgeois democracy. The people have rights, as long as they do not disturb the ruling class. They need these authoritarian measures in order to impose their policy, which increases the profits of the big capital and deteriorates the conditions of life of the workers. The European Union expresses politically the interests of the big capital. It can not be transformed to the “Europe of the people”. No matter how strong capitalism is, it can not overpass its internal contradictions and its crisis. The real character of the European Union and the governments will be exposed more and more to more people. à”he leader of Democratic Social Movement Tsovolas described the suppression of the protests of the victims of the global new liberalism as a shameful page for the democratic Europe. He criticized the Greek government for failing to take position and initiatives at the international forum for the events (injuries of demonstrators, deportation of Greek protestors). The leader of the Coalition, Konsantopoulos said that there was a cooperation between the Italian and the Greek authorities. The Liberals stated, that although they disagree with the demonstrators, they respect their right to protest peacefully.

The ArchiBishop Christodoulos, in his regular speech (22/7/2001) stated that “globalization leads to alienation, social injustice, cultural conformism. The free creation, production is a God blessing, but the takeover of the planet of a few uncontrollable interests is something else. These interests contaminate the environment. The Orthodox priests will resist to the “modernizers”.

Rizospastis (22/7/2001) wrote: “The democracy is in fact a crude dictatorship of the big capital with a parliamentary dressing. Its essence is better exposed when the class struggle is rising. European Union in fact serves the interests of the monopolies. European Union can not be the rival pole against Unites States. The rival pole was the socialist camp. All the theories for a third road are proven to be fallacious. Imperialism can not be regulated. Only it can be overthrown……Capitalism can not be reformed. The representatives of the multinationals can offer only poverty, impoverishment, environmental destruction, wars, misery, millions of homeless. Against the “Holy Alliance” of the 21st century, the workers have only one weapon: class struggle without compromise. They must coordinate their struggle in world scale……Even elementary social and political rights are a matter of relation of forces. Rights exist only for the ones that know to defend them…….The anti globalization movement will become effective only if it challenges capitalism. The question socialism or barbarism is again on the agenda.

Tsezerole Avgi (22/7/2001) attempted to describe the globalization, under the title 10 truths about globalization. She wrote among others: “It is not a new phenomenon, but it exists for many centuries. The travel, the trade, the explorations, the interrelations between civilizations are a common heritage. It has benefited most people. Only some centuries ago, misery, and a “poor, quick” life was the common rule. A crucial issue is the inequalities, the distribution of wealth. Although there are many poor, it is difficult to say if the statement that the poor have become more poor is correct and reflects a general trend. The market economy is compatible with many different frameworks. Market is only a structure among others. The structure of power and the role of super national organizations must be reexamined. Elefantis (Avgi, 22/7/2001)”Globalization is a process of capitalist expansion……The clashes in Genoa is a battle at an imaginary field, with strong symbolism, but without consequences at the real life. The supporter of the government, journalist Tzanetakos, stated in a TV discussion that in Genoa leaders democratically elected are gathered and represent millions, while the hundred thousands of demonstrators is an insignificant number. The MP of the Coalition at the Europarliament Papagianakis participated at the discussions of the Social Forum of Genoa (the leader of the Coalition Konstantopoulos, the MPs Dragasakis, Lafazanis were also there) and proposed among others the creation of a global government, democratically controlled. We must for the transformation of United Nations to a more representative organization, that represents the whole of the world, not only the winners of the second world war, or the former colonial powers, for the adoption of the Tobin tax. He also supported the necessity for some pressure on the World Trade Organization, so that some elementary social standards are taken into account. All these are mature social, political and moral demands. The MP of New Democracy Kaklamanis (Mp at the Europarliament of Political Spring 1994-9) described himself as a liberal with social sensitivity, the globalization as Americanization and wished he were in Genoa. Glezos was in Genoa and many members, MPs, sub ministers of the ruling party expressed support to the demonstrators. à”he Greek member of the Commission for social affairs also expressed sympathy for the demonstrators, spoke about the failure of globalization at the social and environmental issues, the necessity of a globalization at the social standards, the environment. The MP of the Coalition Damanaki (Nea 21/7/2001) wrote that the globalization is a stage at the history of the man kind. It lacks a political management, because the new liberal approach was predominant at the eighties. In the nineties, the left failed to offer a global political solution of regulation of the economy. We must ask for the political integration of the European Union and a political plan of Europe in order to intervene at the globalization process. The political management can defend societies from new liberalism. The consultant at the ministry of foreign affairs Kotzias (member of the central committee of K.K.E. till 1989, he resigned as a protest for the common government of Coalition, New Democracy and for a while was a member of New Left Current) in an article (Imerisia 21/7/2001) wrote that globalization is an objective process which takes form depending on the dominant policy. What is needed is a democratic structure, so the form and the structure of the globalization will change. He proposed a change at the construction of the international organizations (Countries like Brazil, China, Indonesia to participate at the G8 summits, democratization of World Bank, I.M.F. (implementation of the principle …‘one country, one vote”) and similar structural changes.

The liberal thinker Andrianopoulos (ex MP of the parliament, ex minister of New Democracy) in an interview at Imerisia (21/7/2001, p.21) said among others “The Greek society is afraid of the globalization, because it is conservative, is afraid of the modern, the new. The anti globalization movement is an alliance of extreme right nationalists, outdated communists, anarchists who fight something they fail to grasp. I can not see what in common they have racists like Bucanan in U.S.A., K.K.E., supporters of the new fascist Haider, archiBishop Christodoulos, anarchists, left reformers. They can not have a common platform……They are hypocrites……The mobilizations in Seattle were sponsored by USA steel industries that want to impose tariffs against imports. The request to apply in Asia, Africa the western labor laws, means that their products will become expensive and uncompetitive in the Western markets, and many of the currently employed will become unemployed and will be driven to criminality. ..”. He also expressed objections for the annulment of the debt of the third world countries, because the taxpayers of the West have no reason to pay for the failed socialist experiments in third world countries or their huge military expenses. The journalist Kapsis (Nea, 11/6/2001) wrote that globalization is the only hope for the third world countries to escape from contemporary misery, because they can not develop without the capital and the Western know – how. Without the development of trade, they will not have the resources to finance the imports for the purchase of the needed capital commodities. The representatives of the real existing socialism like China want to participate to the International Trade Organization. The MP of PASOK Papthemelis (Orthodox, at the clash over the identity cards in 2000, he supported the Church) described the globalization (Hristianiki 5/7/2001) as an alienation of life from commercialization, the imposition of the American life style internationally, the peak of speculation. Only a small minority benefits from the progress and the prosperity. It was supposed that the collapse of communism would lead to peace, but in the nineties over 50 local wars have exploded. Basic principles of the Orthodox religious tradition like friendship, honesty are not recognized by the new system of thought, which has as values market, consumption. The Orthodox ideal is post capitalist, post communist, post socialist. We treat all humans as equal because all are images of God……The nation state is the target of globalization.

Prin (22/7/2001) wrote that the organized by the “black international” of European Union, USA suppression against the thousands of Genoa protestors revealed the real face of globalization: dictatorship of the multinationals. EU threw its democratic face.

A representative of the Left Gathering (Prin 22/7/2001) described globalization as intensification of the internationalization of capital. The framework is the lift of protection mechanisms for national capital, their exposition to international competition in the flow of commodities and capital. The creation of supranational integrations like European Union. The effort of assuring the USA hegemony through imperialist interventions. The bourgeois states are not abolished as places of class struggle. The idea that the transition to a global capitalism is inevitable and will result the formation if a global working class is fallacious. This approach underestimates the importance of the crash with imperialist mechanisms and the withdrawal of imperialist organizations. The anti globalization movements have a symbolic element of reference because they rely on popular and workers mobilizations in separate capitalist formations. Marinos (MP of New Democracy at the Europarliament, Vima 22/7/2001, p.53) wrote “The rich countries of the European Union, supported by the trade unionists of the protected sectors of agriculture oppose the trade liberalization. So, they are against the interests of the poor farmers of the Third world. The social state in Europe was feasible not because of their struggle, but due to the colonialism of the 19th century and the protection of the European producers at the expense of the third world countries. Only globalization can contribute to the flow of capital from the rich to the poor countries, to a more equal income distribution.” The professor at the London School of Economics Mouzelis (supporter of the New Labor party of Blair and ideologist of the modernizing wing of PASOK) (Vima 22/7/2001) expressed the view that if a small portion of the wealth was correctly invested, the absolute misery would disappear. He considers the idea of a minimum guaranteed income globally (as it now exists in some European countries) feasible because the productivity and the production increase, the public opinion is sensitive n the issue of poverty, Non government organizations can press the governments of the rich countries to try to find solutions to social issues. The dogmatic left disregards this idea and doubts it can be applied in capitalism. But the same left at the beginning of the 20th century argued against the possibility of the creation of a social state within the capitalist framework and it was proven wrong. This can be achieved if the new liberalism is replaced by the socialdemocratic way of regulating the international economy and society. Hristianiki (19/7/2001) had at the first page an article of the president of Christian Democracy. He wrote that “We are against the globalization of the New World Order and the international capitalist system, because it accumulates wealth for a small minority and impoverishment for the rest, it destroys the environment, commercializes culture, health, civilization. Konstantinidis (Kathimerini, 20/7/2001, a respectable center right daily newspaper) described the antiglobalization movement as heterogeneous gathering of nationalists, isolationists, conservatives who are afraid of the new, the unknown, revolutionary groups, idealists. According to the commentator, if the process of globalization were stopped the bigger losers would be the more poor countries and the poorest sections of the population. Only in a global society issues like democracy, human rights can be addressed.

The attitude towards the events in Genoa
Most of the Greek press either criticized strongly the Italian government for the excess use of violence, or accused both sides. For example Vima (22/7/2001) described the clashes “as a demonstration of power of both sides……from the one side the arrogance of the ones who pretend the global government and from the other side the extreme attitude of the ones that pretend to be the international revolution.” The delegate of Vima Pretenderis, (25/7/2001) in another article wrote that Bertinoti has no right to complain for the police violence, because thanks to him Berlusconi took power and behaved in a brutal way. One of the few exceptions that supported the Italian government was the newspaper Estia (25/7/2001, p.1). The member of the central committee of the Liberals Skilalakis wrote that the anti globalization movement used deliberately the controlled violence in order to promote its ideas. They tried to break the “red zone” although they knew that according to the law, the police was obliged to try to stop them. It is totalitarian in its nature, because it turns to violence. The democrats, contrary to totalitarians, reject the use of violence against structures that have democratic legitimacy. At the same newspaper, another article (26/7/2001) admitted that the G-8 are indifferent to human suffering, hypocrites, apply the international law selectively, ignore the rights of the poor and weak, but the ones who demonstrated have no moral right, because they supported totalitarian regimes in the past. Another extreme right newspaper (Ethnegersia) had the headline “G-8 murderers”. The New Rise (23/7/2001) newspaper of the Organization for the Reconstruction of Communist Party of Greece considers the anti-globalization movement extremely reactionary. “The world leaders have the right to meet and discuss. The demonstrators denied to an elected government the right to be the guest at a meeting of 8 elected leaders. The attempt by the Greek demonstrators to go to Genoa in order to cancel the meeting was also anti democratic. The people of Genoa left the city, not because of the police, but because they were afraid of the violence of the demonstrators. The anti globalization movement is mainly composed of fascists and social fascists. The social base of the anti globalization movement is the radicalized petit bourgeois who lives in the rich countries and hates both the big capital and the workers. This movement has similarities with the anti capitalist fascist movements in the inner war period. The representatives of the labor bureaucracy, the reformists, the ecologists participate, but the radical anti capitalists have the upper hand. The globalization is carried out by the monopoly capital, but contributes to the explosive development of the productive forces, the technological and scientific progress, unifies the peoples. The anti globalization movement attacks the Cosmo political capital, but not nationalism. “